Dec 31, 2008

Wednesday December 31, 2008 Diane C. Baldwin

Theme: On the Road To Success

20A: Proceeded slowly: TOOK BABY STEPS

37A: Didn't hesitate: JUMPED RIGHT IN

52A: Accomplished easily: SAILED THROUGH

I am not sure I got the theme right. Those answers are three different manners to achieve one's goal, right?

This is probably the easiest Wednesday puzzle we've had in December. Simple clues, simple answer. "Nice life?" for VIE is a breath of fresh air. Nice has quite a few interesting museums: Musée Chagall, Musée Matisse, etc. I would like to visit there someday.

I really miss baseball, so I might have clued ESS (27D: Slalom trail) as "Season opener?". Lots of other ways to play with ESS, you know, "Slow start?", "Strong start?". Might be too risky to have "Sex start?" though.


9A: Patriot Allen: ETHAN. Or one of the Coen brothers. I could not grok "Fargo" when I first saw it in 2001. Very strange Minnesota dialect. Yah, you betcha!

15A: Jason's vessel: ARGO. Out of those Argonauts, Atlanta is the only girl, right?

19A: Like sailor's stories: SALTY. Do you know why SALTY dog is named so? What does "dog" refer to?

25A: Presidential nickname: IKE. I thought of ABE first.

33A: Binary digits: ONES. Zeros and ONES.

57A: Yoga position: LOTUS. My grandma used to make pickled LOTUS root for us during Chinese Spring Festival.

60A: Guernsey or Anglesey: ISLE. I've never heard of those two ISLES. Here is the map for Guerney. Wikipesia says "Guernsey is not part of the UK but rather a separate possession of the Crown, comparable to the ISLE of Man". What does "the Crown" refer to then? ISLE of Angelsey is in the northwest coast of Wales. I suppose "Sey" is a corrupted form of "sea"?


2D: City in a Shakespeare title: VERONA. "The Two Gentlemen of VERONA". Also the setting for "Romeo and Juliet".

3D: Tour guide: ESCORT. "Tour guide"? Really?

4D: Military hat: SHAKO. Without the across fills, I would not have got this plumed hat.

11D: Finland destination: HELSINKI. Is Finnish language very different from from Swedish?

32D: Broadcast again: RERAN

45D: Practiced conservation: REUSED. I think weekday puzzle should limit its prefix to two.

46D: Sought indirectly: ANGLED

47D: Old anesthetics: ETHERS. See, I understand this "Old", meaning "former" or "bygone". Some of the "Old" city clues drive me nuts.

51D: Ta-da!: VOILA. Done! See you tomorrow!



C.C. Burnikel said...

Barry et al,
I don't understand the below clues/answers:

Lynch burg: TWIN PEAKS

Scratch pad?: HELL

"She does...them? (on film): DEBBIE

C.C. Burnikel said...

It's in my email box. I am a long time subscriber (not a good reader) of Wordsmith.

"Today's puzzle made me CRABBIT...grouchy. Putzing around the house today trying to get caught up on some things." Is CRABBIT a Scottish word? I've never heard of "Putzing around" before. Is it slang?

Ken Colwell,
Good point on SETI.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Clear Ayes,
What does REET mean in "Are You All REET?"

Linda, Dot & Wolfmom,
I found your Original Sin/Christian/Pagan holiday exchanges fascinating.

Barb B,
Very informative post. Good summary. Thanks.

Great links yesterday. All those Sumerian deities tend to give me headache though.

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone!! I totally love this blog..I'm from Bombay and we get these crosswords in the Times of India but we're getting your October ones now so thank god for archives!! Just wanted to say thank you to all of you for making this so much fun :D

Martin said...

12 minutes 18 seconds! This one was very easy (IMO)! I JUMPED RIGHT IN and SAILED THROUGH! I'm felling SMUG now because I managed to GET all the clues: there were no unknowns. NIL! That DOESN'T happen very often: it's a RARE thing indeed. It helped that many of the words were REUSED, having appeared in TMS puzzles recently.

C.C., the NYT puzzle seems a lot more DF that the TMS puzzle. "She does... them? (on film)" refers to DEBBIE Does Dallas, an X-Rated movie about a cheerleader and, presumably, one of the players. (I've never seen it, personally.)

TWIN PEAKS is the name of a fictional town and the TV show about it. It was written by David Lynch. You might have heard of it: Joan Chen had a recurring role. Again, I never saw it.

Oh and "Old Scratch" is a nick name for the devil and, hence, "Scratch Pad?" is Hell. I don't know the etymology of Old Scratch. **google** That was fast! The word "skratte" comes from Old Norse and means "goblin, monster".


C.C. Burnikel said...

Thanks for the nice message. We've lots of fellow TMS solvers in India. Sorry about the lag. Happy New Year to you!

Well, if the film title is "DEBBIE Does Dallas", what does "them" refer to then? Also, why ... mark in the clue?

Martin said...

Well, if the film title is "DEBBIE Does Dallas", what does "them" refer to then? Also, why ... mark in the clue?

You're right. The clue could have been "She does Dallas (on film)". Perhaps whoever wrote the clue was aware (or even saw) the sequels "Debbie Does Las Vegas",
"Debbie Does New Orleans" and "Debbie Does Wall Street".

Is it okay that I didn't provide links for any of the above titles? I don't think it would be a good idea.


Argyle said...

CC, how would this be for a visual theme for today?

Bill said...

MUCH better today.
I don't feel quite as uneducated as I did yesterday.
Only hang up was VIE. Knew that it was right but EVERT made no sense. Looked it up and apparently it's a medical term (among others).
Well, the new year appears to be coming in with a bang. After 3 days of temps in the mid 40's (to melt the snow), yesterday and today have been 20's and snow. About 3-4 inches so far, and still windy. A good day to hibernate!
CY'All Later

Anonymous said...

Debbie Does Dallas (G Rated Version)

15:22 today.

I have no clue as to what the dog means in Salty Dog. I could only guess it means hair of the dog.

Barry G. said...

Morning, all!

Hmmmm... Lately it seems like the puzzles are either obnoxiously hard stinkers or boringly easy snoozers. Today's was definitely of the latter variety for me. Not much to say about the solving experience, really. As with Martin, I JUMPED RIGHT IN and SAILED THROUGH it. No unknowns for me, and the only "iffy" clue was "sluggish" for INERT, since I associate INERT with being completely nonreactive and immobile, not just "sluggish."

I really need to get up earlier, since Martin always seems to post what I want to post before I can post it.... ^_^

kazie said...

Well this whole puzzle was gimme for me. such a relief after yesterday.

You got in before me--I was going to say I needed no baby steps and jumped right in, sailing through too!

EVERT has the same prefix I mentioned the other day--the "e-" is from the Latin "ex-", and the "x" often gets left off. So when you see "e-" as a stand alone prefix, it can mean "from/out of", especially if the rest of the word has a Latin root. e.g.: elongate = stretch out, elope = run away from.

Razz said...

CC & Company – Even though this was an extremely easy XW, I originally thought that it was going to be a completely different theme. Saw eves then baby and my mind started thinking of New Year’s icons (new babe coming in to usher out the old). Just wishful thinking I guess.

Be sure to eat your greens and black-eyed peas for prosperity and luck in the New Year. If you are celebrating designate a driver or take a taxi.

Hope your 2009 is the best year yet…

Jeanne said...

Morning all,
I was glad there was an easy puzzle today since I didn't have time to do them for the last five days. Family is all gone and miss them terribly already. Six people plus baby make for a hectic household but lots of fun.

@Razzberry, Where does greens and black-eyed peas for luck in the New Year originate? Our area, Berks Co. in PA, eats pork and sauerkraut on New Years Day for luck and prosperity. I would be curious to know of other food habits in other areas of the country.

Linda said...

Razzberry; Don`t forget the "hog jowl" (never heard of it until I came here from FL! Quite tasty, like good bacon...)
To C.C. et al; Happy 2009 (what animal represents this year?)

kazie said...

I found this link on the MS homepage today for good luck foods for New Year.

Anonymous said...

At the age of 83 I am "old", but I am not "former or bygone" yet. The word "old" simply indicates the passage of a lot of time, not necessarily that somethng has ceased to exist.

Argyle said...

2009 January 26 Ox

Linda said...

Argyle: Then all we stubborn,strongly opinionated people should UNITE! It`s OUR YEAR! :)

Linda said...

Argyle: Are you Santa?

Anonymous said...

Also, besides the Salty Dog alcoholic drink, "In British and American Navies, a "Salty Dog" refers to generally an older, seasoned, veteran sailor who has had a significant amount of time underway." This is what came to my mind, not the drink.

kazie said...

I'm a Taurus, so stubborn, but my year is the dog. (dogged?).

January 26th is Australia Day, celebrating the landing of the First Fleet.

Martin said...

It's 11:44 pm here and my cat (believe it or not) is telling me to go to bed. Happy 2009, everybody!


Jeanne said...

@Kazie, Thanks for the link to lucky New Year's Day food. Never realized that pork was really quite universal. Found it interesting that chicken was a no-no because it scratches backwards and is not forward looking. Guess I'll stick with my pork tenderloin tomorrow.

Barb B said...

Finally we had a puzzle I could solve unaided. Must have been boring for some of you. Even the theme clues were easy, So I had fun,

Don’t know why Salty Dogs are called that – I do know that if they don’t have the salt, they’re called greyhounds. I love ‘em.

I knew Guernsey could be a cow or an island off the coast of England. It was occupied by the Germans in WWII. There’s a great novel about that called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I posted my comments re bible, Augustine, etc late last night on yesterday’s blog. I wanted to start today with new stuff.

Anonymous said...

Here in the Coastal Empire the black-eyed peas and greens eaten on New Years is called hoppin' John. Don't ask me why. I'm originally from the left coast.

Razz said...

Jeanne & Linda - Black-eyed peas and greens is a southern U.S. custom. Lots of others around the country and world (herring?) The peas wouldn't be worth eating with out pork (jowls or fat back).

STCC - What are some of your NY's traditions? Any polar bear clubbers amongst us?

winfield said...


Glad someone is from Berks County besides me...We live in Womelsdorf (Is that a German name or what??) which is half way between Lebanon & Reading. We just moved here January of 2007.

My ex father-in-law was from North Carolina and he always had us eat Black eyed peas on New Years eve

I love pork & sauerkraut(being Polish) but my wife hates it. So many churches here have that meal as a fund raiser..

I often heard that Lebanon has a baloney drop today but not sure if that is an urban legend or not. Would be neat if true....

Linda said...
"Salty dog' was not listed in the "bonafide" sea phrases...this site has a free trial but is per subscription.

Crockett1947 said...

Good morning, everyone. Not much to say about this cream puff that hasn't been said before. Martin had a clever entry that covered C.C.'s questions and incorporated lots of the fills.

May you all have a Happy New Year and a fantastic 2009!

Retread38 said...

I didn't see an answer for 61A or 53D. Got me stumped.

To C.C. Scratch pad? They used to call the Devil, "Old Scratch." Don't know why. There was also a film called, "Debbie does Dallas" or somewhere like that. Apparently they 'lynched' someone in the TV series, "Twin Peaks."

Retread38 said...

I didn't see any answers for 61A or 53D. They have me stumped.

To C.C. In the 'Olden days' they used to call the Devil, 'Ol'Scratch', so Hell would be his 'pad.' There was also a movie called "Debbie Does Dallas" or something like that. I'm assuming the Twin Peaks clue refers to a 'lynching' that took place in that TV series

Crockett1947 said...

@retread 61A INERT and 53D AURA.

Auntie Naomi said...

Hi C.C. and all,

Today's was the complete opposite of yesterday difficulty-wise. It took me all of 10:39. Not my fastest time, but pretty quick.

The show 'Twin Peaks' was created by David Lynch.

Dick said...

Hello CC et al..Nice easy puzzle for my return. I, like others, flew thru this one with no help. This is my first visit to the blog in two weeks and I wonder where the long time members are ie Dennis, Drdad, Lois, Buckeye etc. Hope nothing has happened to them.

The cruise through the Panama Canal was fantastic and I would highly recommend it. My fascination, being an engineer, was the revolutionary engineering that was done 100 years ago and is, to this day, so functional.

Hope you all hav e a great New Year. If you drink don't drive/

Clear Ayes said...

Good Morning All, This was a nice puzzle. It seemed easier to do the Downs first, in order to get most of the theme answer letters filled. I just had to go back and complete a few missing theme word letters and VOILA...all done.

Calef@9:11 Very funny and right to the point. I think C.C. should now understand how "old" can mean something other than former or bygone. May you keep on being old for a long time to come!

C.C. Is Finnish language very different from from Swedish? Except for a few Swedish phrases, I don't speak either language. But I've been told by Swedish relatives that the two languages are very different. Finnish is a Uralic language and Swedish is a North Germanic (Scandinavian) language. My cousins have said that Swedish is very similar to Norwegian, and somewhat similar to Danish. They are lost when it comes to Finnish.

All Reet is just "Jive" slang for "all right. Cab Calloway was a famous bandleader at New York's Cotton Club in the 1930's. Are You All Reet was pretty well known, but Minnie The Moocher was one of his biggest hits.

bethann said...

I loved this easy puzzle! I don't like banging my head against the wall on the hard ones. I get enough stimulation in school!

Another New Years tradition a friend of mine told me about is to wear red underwear for a "prosperous" sex life in the comming year. Think I may try it this year see if it works. :)
Hae a great New Year and be safe!!!!!!!!

Clear Ayes said...

We aren't partying tonight. It will be quiet evening...however a few glasses of champagne will definitely be enjoyed. Because of other commitments, about 16 of our friends will wait for Saturday evening for our New Year's bash.

We don't have any special food to eat on New Year's Day, but maybe I'll toss a pork loin in the slow cooker to enjoy during a bowl game or three. Sounds good to me.

New Year

This night
of all the nights
is the year's last.
All, all
the other nights
are gone, are past...
the evening, with
its fading light,
put the lid
on the hour
and close it tight.

Close up
your tired eye;
close up the day.
Bid the old year
and come away.

- Jean Kenward

Happy New Year everyone!

WM said...

Good morning everyone...
Easy puzzle (finally!). No problems so won't go over it and everyone has answered all the random questions...yea!

C.C. CRABBIT: Dialect. chiefly Scot, adjective. 1.ill-tempered, grumpy, curt, disagreeable, in a bad mood (esp. in the morning). (Often used in: Ken this, yer a Crabbit get, so ye are) Noun. See who by their nature or temperment conveys an aura of irritability.(Note: KEN means "know" or "understand")
My Scotish friend uses words like this, so I always have to ask. This was actually on a T-Shirt I got for my husband as a joke because he is the least crabbit person I know.

Putzing around is kind of like goofing off. I may have the spelling completely wrong, but I think a putz is a kind of goofy person. Jump in here anyone, I can't come up with the word I want! Jewish slang...schlep, schmear, etc...I'm brain dead at the moment.Chugging down my 2nd cup of coffee...

Have to run over across the bay today to pick up some paintings that have been on lease until the end of the year...will check back later.

kazie: Thank you for EVERT...even after I filled it in, it didn't look right but I left because I was sure that BLEEPS was correct.

Calef: Thank you OLD...I feel better now.

A very Happy New Year to all you clever people. Especially to C.C. for this great Blog!

Jeannie said...

I breezed through this puzzle today. Didn't have to google even once.

No big plans tonight other than to try to keep warm. It's a bit might chilly here in MN today and into tonight. To all of my new found friends, have a wonderful, prosperous New Year.

Dick, I'm glad you had a great trip and you were missed.

Bethann, thanks for your tip on the red panties...think I'll give it a try!


WM said...

Got it!...the word I wanted is Yiddish. My Rolodex brain just popped it out.

Clear Ayes...terrific poem.

We are babysitting our granddaughter tonite, but the party is held on NY time, so they finish up around 9:30 pm PST...Still time for a glass of Champagne.

Argyle said...

More Salty Dog:
"Salty dog" means essentially the same thing as "old salt," a veteran and often aging sailor. "Salty dog" is probably based on another term, "sea dog," again meaning a sailor with years of experience. The term "sea-dog," by the way, originally was applied to the seals sailors often encountered. from Word Detective

From Mayberry, Salty Dog clip

It seems to be a song that lends itself to making your own lyrics. From the Kingsto Trio,

I got a gal, she's ten feet tall, sleeps in the kitchen with her feet in the hall. Honey, let me be your salty dog.
There was two old ladies sittin' in the sand, each one wishin' the other was a man. Honey, let me be your salty dog.
If I can't be your salty dog, I won't be your man at all. Honey, let me be your salty dog.
I smile when you go into town. Now I'm sorry that your car broke down. Honey, let me be your salty dog.
You told me that your wheel was broke. Now I'm sittin' with a broken spoke. Honey, let me be your salty dog.
I love you in blue and I love you in red but most of all I love you in blue. Honey, let me be your salty dog.
Floatin' down the river on an old oak log. What the hell's a salty dog? Honey, let me be your salty dog.
I think we better call this the end of this song 'cause it's a-getting' too damn long. Honey, let me be your salty dog.
Honey, let me be your salty, honey, let me be your salty, honey, let me be your salty dog.

JD said...

Good morning C.C. and all,

The more I do these puzzles, I see why most of you can zip thru them in nano seconds. I'm beginning to remember reused words like shako, esp. when you all add such interesting links for those of us who need the visuals to remember.I felt like I was playing "Wheel of Fortune" with those 3 phrases, and it took a bit of thought to finish.
I was surpised that ether was plural, but it fit.Poses didn't fit, but lotus did.Loved clues for 30D & 42A.

C.C., about Sumerian deities- I think we are just more familiar with the Greek/Roman gods in our education.Even a college class I took did not have much about Sumerian gods. It is amazing the mythology lessons we have acquired in the last 6 mo. from each other.We've covered Priam, the Trojan War king,Perseus who killed the gorgon Medusa.Helios (Sol)is the sun charioteer who was Selene's brother.Eos,the goddess of dawn who spread her white wings over the sky to bring daylight. Then there was Lorelei, the Rhine siren,and Assur, an Assyrian god, Baal, the fertility god and Astarte the fertility goddess.That is just a few.

I am anxious to see what new things we will all learn in '09.

Welcome back Dick

Clear Ayes said...

"Putz" is a Yiddish word. It really means penis. "Shmuck" is also a Yiddish word that means penis. Slangily...If you call somebody a putz it means he is a dopey or clumsy person. ("Putzing around" would be acting dopey or not accomplishing anything.) If you call somebody a shmuck it has a more derogatory meaning, more like calling someone a real jerk. Calling somebody a putz can be sort of affectionate; calling somebody a shmuck isn't.

As long as I'm on a roll here... a fellow blogger sent this to me and asked if I thought it was appropriate for C.C.'s blog. Why not? Fair warning, it is disrespectful to everybody, but that is what makes it funny. Uncle Jay's End of 2008. Fellow blogger, if you want to take credit, now is the time LOL.

Argyle, Thanks for Salty Dog. I sort of remembered the song from somewhere back in the folk singing days.

JD said...

Thanks Clear Ayes

Dick said...

Bethann does the red underwear work for men also? Not the panties but briefs.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Perfect visual.

Yes, Argyle is the Santa of this blog. He always brings good stuff, all year round.

Clear Ayes & JD,
Awesome link. What is the song @ 2:51?

Your "I am not "former or bygone" yet" made me laugh. I vodka you.

Anonymous said...

C.C. and all

Salty dog can mean a few things:

- experienced, been around (a term used for navy and marine corp who has been out to sea (salt from the ocean).

- as in Argyle song... salty dog means experienced lover.

can also be a drink.

Many of us will experience a salty dog one way or another tonight.

Drive safety if you must go out, or walk smartly. Have a Happy New Year all.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Razzberry & Bethann,
On every Chinese Spring Festival eve I wear red-color thong, not for "prosperous" sex life, but to drive away bad luck.

I am glad you got your blue dotted status back.

Thanks for the answers.

Mark from VA,
You are the Navy guy, right? Happy New Year to you as well.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Nice to see you back. Dennis is in FL enjoying the sea. Dr. Dad is on his 2-week vacation enjoying the sun. Lois is in OK enjoying whatever the last S_ _ word is ("Kama Sutra" subject perhaps?). Buckeye is simply lurking.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I was a bartender for 22 years. Salty dog is a greyhound with salt on the rim. A greyhound is a vodka and grapefruit juice. Since a greyhound is a dog it is called a salty dog. Great site.

bethann said...

Dick: I don't know if it works for men or not but it sure can't hurt to try. Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!

Clear Ayes said...

According to Wikipedia, "In 2007, Rick Astley became an Internet phenomenon when his video for "Never Gonna Give You Up" became part of a popular internet meme called "rickrolling". Astley was voted by Internet users "Best Act Ever" at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2008."

Enjoy, Never Gonna Give You Up

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Everyone!
All the best for 2009
Remember if you are cheering
no steering!

kazie said...

Knowing that German and Yiddish are very similar, I have to add that putzen in German means to clean house. A Putzfrau is a cleaning lady.

When I say I'm putzing about, I think of the image of taking my time, doing a bit of this and a bit of that, aimlessly going from one thing to another, as it might appear a Putzfrau is doing when cleaning. So not goofing off, just unfocused and slow.

And then the dissimilarity of Swedish to Finnish: I've been told that Norwegian and Danish are essentially the same language because of their linked history. Swedish is similar enough to those to be easily understood by them and vice versa.

But when I was in Finnland, Finnish sounded more similar to Russian than the to other Scandinavian languages. Whether there is a connection because of its proximity to Russia or not, I don't know--just my observation at the time.

Also, Wolfmom,
There's a connection between Scottish dialect and German too: "kennen" in German is to be acquaited with, to know in the sense of knowing a person. And the word for church in German is Kirche, like the Scottish kirk.

kazie said...

oops, I meant "acquainted with"

embien said...

10:03 today. No unknowns.

I'm back! four days without power (which means no water either since I'm on a well). Haven't been able to get out since Dec 17, but the snow is down to only a foot now so I'm hopeful. My driveway is very steep.

This is the most snow by far in the 22 years I've lived in this house, and the most in Portland area in the 41 years I've lived in this area.

WM said...

Clear Ayes, kazie...thanks for the Yiddish update. I had some transplanted Jewish friends from New York when I was in high school...some of the parents spoke Yiddish and the words, because they sounded so great, worked their way into my vocabulary. Now I know that putz basically means what I thought it did, but schmuck will not be used in the future. All the interconnections between languages is always so fascinating. I knew I could count on you all to fill in the blanks.

kazie...thanks also for the german connections. I was definitely a putzfrau yesterday...worked my way through things, but slowly.

Argyl...what a funny Kingston Trio song! I used to love them when I was in high school. Isn't the MTA song from so many xword clues by them?

C.C. I rather like your use of the red you wear them on Chinese New Year's eve? We always have a huge parade in SF for Chinese New Year. Also, isn't red a good luck color used in Feng Shui(sp?)?

C.C. Burnikel said...

"STCC - What are some of your NY's traditions? Any polar bear clubbers amongst us?". What does STCC stand for?

What is "baloney drop"?

Thanks for the Greyhound and Salty Dog information.

Clear Ayes,
Boy, you never fail to amaze me. Thanks for the putz, shmuck and 'Never Gonna Give You Up". Very nice song. I like it a lot.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Interesting Putzfrau connection. Thanks. Do you know why DOL is clued as "GI bill?".

Good to see you again. We've been worried about you.

Yeah, my grandma told me to wear red colored underwear on the eve of Chinese Spring Festival. I am not into Feng Shui at all. But red is a lucky color.

RichShif said...

Good Evening C.C. and all,

One mistake today...had sit instead of sat for 28A. Thought the clue was in present tense instead of past tense so that made Verona Veroni which was really unknown.

To busy to comment on yesterday's puzzle but whatted to state that I was not familar with sneaky pete in dealing with wine. In billiards, a sneaky pete is a pool cue that is designed to look like a standard house cue. It is usually a high quality cue with an expensive tip and is a two piece cue. The cue is popular with hustlers as it appears to a unsuspecting mark that he is shooting "regular joe" instead of a hustler. I had one but sold it for a decent proffit. It seems every time that I would have it out to use someone would put it in the rack with the house cues.

Minnesota Fats

May not be around for a few days...going out of town and start a remodel on return.

Barry G. said...

"Putz" is a Yiddish word. It really means penis. "Shmuck" is also a Yiddish word that means penis. Slangily...If you call somebody a putz it means he is a dopey or clumsy person. ("Putzing around" would be acting dopey or not accomplishing anything.) If you call somebody a shmuck it has a more derogatory meaning, more like calling someone a real jerk. Calling somebody a putz can be sort of affectionate; calling somebody a shmuck isn't.

Maybe it's a regional thing, but I grew up understanding those two words to mean exactly the opposite, i.e., that "schmuck" was a gentler term that could be used affectionately among friends and "putz" was the really nasty word you used when you really wanted to insult people. Since "putz" was such a taboo word in our household, we used to say "futzing around" instead so as to not get into trouble.

In case anybody is interested, btw, the word "schmuck" comes from the German word for "jewel" and metaphorically refers to "the family jewels" (i.e the entire male reproductive organ of the male head of household).

Anonymous said...

I'm making some "Hoppin' John" right now. The house smells wonderful.

The origin is in the south, New Orleans to be specific (I think). Haven't researched it.

The rice represents good health, the black-eyed peas are coins, and the collard greens (served on the side) are dollars. At least that's what my Nebraska-born mother told me.

"Debbie Does Dallas" was/is a prono flick. Debbie is a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys, and she "does" the whole team. I've never been motivated to see it.

Have a joyful, healthy new year all. I love reading your blog.


Anonymous said...


Wearing red underwear for all year or just New Years Day?

Clear Ayes said...

Barry, That is odd, maybe it is regional usage. My father's parents were Russian Jews who wound up in Chicago in the early 1900's. Although they died when my father was very young, he grew up speaking Yiddish to his sisters, brother and some other family members.

He was not one to use either one of the "two vulgar words" when the kids were around, I did hear him use both of them when he thought we couldn't hear (Ha, Ha, Since when don't kids hear every swear word or vulgarity their parents utter?). He used the word putz when he might be talking about a friend who had made a big mistake. When he called somebody a shmuck, it would be about someone he didn't respect and he said it very disparagingly. When I grew up and could ask him about such things, the description I gave on the blog was pretty much how he described the difference.

For anybody who is interested, here is a list of Practical Yiddish Words. There are lots of good non-vulgar name calling and insults, LOL, so help yourself.

Time to open the champagne. Have a wonderful evening everyone.

carol said...

Hi C.C. and all, late today, too many errands.
Bill, welcome back! I am glad you had a wonderful cruise.

Bethann, Red underwear will bring prosperity in the New Year? Wow, that is a new and interesting idea! Hmmmm, wonder what I could charge? I'll have a Salty Dog and think on it. LOL

Embien, I am so glad to hear from you..we were all worried. I am glad you can see freedom from your driveway. I do believe the storm of Dec.'68/Jan.'69 dumped more snow on us but as you know, the snow levels are a regional thing. We lived (and still do) in the N.E. part of Portland so we get the "gorge effect"...drifts up to the second story. Blahhhhhh!

Argyle, thanks so much for the lyrics to Salty Dog...I remember the song, just never knew all the words.

Clear ayes, thanks for the putz/schmuck
info, and Barry, thank you too for your slant on it. I never knew the "real" definitions for those words. I wish Lois was were she could get on a computer (she is in OK and stuck with a dial-up which she says is causing her to go gray while waiting for it to kick in). We all know what fun she could have with those words. LOL

To all, please have a safe and fun night!! Thanks for a very enjoyable year, and I have high hopes for the next one.

Barry G. said...

A good discussion of the difference between putz and schmuck can be found here, to wit:

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.

So, I guess I ascribe to the Leo Rosten school of Yiddish, which is apparently no longer (if ever) the popular conception.

kazie said...

Clear ayes,
Thanks for the Practical Yiddish guide. Amazing really how many of those words have become commonplace in our English. Though many resemble German, the shades of meaning are often quite different, as we saw from our earlier discussions today. I always feel language is so individual, as long as nobody is offended, words are like works of art, and should be used to mean whatever is agreeable to both the speaker and his/her audience.

I wish you all a happy 2009 and beyond!

Anonymous said...

new year called for a new avatar. Happy New Year Everyone

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year princess.

Anonymous said...

C.C., still enjoying all the wonderful links. Amazing discussions lately. Very educational. So many bright and funny people visit your site. Please keep up the good work.

Happy New Year to all.