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Today’s New York Times picked up a line of the comment of Governor of California, Jerry Brown on California's tight budget, which calls for severe spending cuts to deal with a $15.7 billion shortfall as the Quotation of the Day. He said:

"It's a ‘pretzel palace’ of incredible complexity."

What did he mean by ‘a pretzel palace’? Does it mean a labyrinth winding like pretzel? Is it a popular phrase metaphorizing complexity of the issue?

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    No, it's not a popular phrase. – JLG May 15 '12 at 11:40
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    Is it anything to do with a puzzle palace? – Brian Hooper May 15 '12 at 12:46
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"Pretzel palace" is not a popular phrase except as the name of several shops, mostly retailers of pretzels and other snacks; for example, Pretzel Palace in West Dundee, Illinois.

I don't know what Jerry Brown meant to say in "It's a ‘pretzel palace’ of incredible complexity". Many people have trouble understanding Jerry Brown, and it may be that he had no specific meaning in mind but thinks of typical pretzel patterns as quite complex. Such thinking is a mistake, as one can see from videos that show how simple it is to shape a pretzel.

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  • Your video helped me to understand what pretzel looks like and how it is made up. Its shape doesn’t look so much complicated as tangled wires. Pretzel isn’t popular food in our country, especially among the old. I know it only by the name of snack candy sold in Japan. – Yoichi Oishi May 15 '12 at 23:25
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    I think of the phrase twisted like a pretzel, so a pretzel palace would have lots of twists and turns. Although technically it isn't all that complex, we're dealing with figurative language. – Zairja Oct 14 '12 at 13:16
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I'd like to expand the question by suggesting that the expression might refer to the brittleness of the budget--pretzels are complex in shape, but they break easily, so trying to "solve" or unravel them presents the danger that they will crumble into dust.

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  • That’s what I imagined first from “pretzel palace,” which made me associate with the fragile “castle (made) of glass.” We call it ‘Galasu no shiro - ガラスの城’ in Japanese. I put this association in my question earlier, but deleted it because the phrase is followed by “complexity.” – Yoichi Oishi May 15 '12 at 11:38

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