Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Return of The Mutha

This week, welcome back Mutha as our guest. Mutha was asked to define Polish.

Polish, adj. From or of Poland.

My Grandfather was born in Poland. My grandmother was born the first American daughter of two Polish parents. And so in this way Polish has always meant half of me.

Polish, n. The polite cultural description (for other, see Polack).

From a young age I also realized that being Polish meant being told jokes. I used to point out that I was Prussian (which is true, in the sense that some relatives lived in the part of the world once known as Prussia and now known as Poland), and did so to somehow save some dignity.

Polish, n. The language native to Poland.

My grandmother and father spoke Polish to one another. I learned very few words and phrases, but when I told Bapcha (Polish for grandma) that I had begun an apprenticeship with a Polish sculptor who was mean to me, she taught me a phrase that she said meant “Leave me alone.” I used it on the sculptor and after looking somewhat surprised he did indeed treat me better. When I told my father the story and the phrase he laughed until he choked. My grandmother (who had run a bar for years and could curse like a sailor) had in fact armed her granddaughter with a phrase that meant SHUT THE (bleep) UP!

Polish, n. sheen, luster, gloss.

v. To shine, buff, scour, brighten.
also spin, work over, reconfigure for the public’s consumption

About Mutha: The half-polish, mostly polished writer, now, of two blogs is also the chaser of two children, judge of their teachers, supporter of their coaches and memorialist of That Girl Mutha's original (as far as I know) blog, She's A Real Mother, keeps us up to date on Mutha, her family, her favorite books, movies, music, quotations. Not to be argumentative, Mutha, but if Lou Reedwere God, don't you think he'd have given himself a singing voice?

Mutha also does a fine imitation of Studs Turkel. Taking the time to notice the people around her, Mutha also from time to time features a series called Who are the people in your neighborhood. This is one of my favoritest features on blogs. Partly because she notices the people in her neighborhood (the houses in mine appear inhabited and sometimes I see featherless bipeds entering and exiting them) and because she takes the time to learn about those people and their jobs. This feature also displays one of Mutha's real virtues as a blogger. A gifted writer, she's also one of the best readers around. It's hard not to admire her community spirit, even for those of us not normally enamored of community.

An exciting new development, since Mutha was last a guest here is the fiction site she's started, Tell Me A Story, Mutha. Mutha is a survivor of National Novel Writing Month, although some of her pride and sense of proportionality were damaged in the battle. She did however write more than 25,000 words of a promising novel and to our benefit, she is continuing to develop her book in "flashes." These can be found on the new site.

Thanks to Mutha for continuing to be a first-rate blogger, reader, writer, observer and friend. Mutha was fictional here once.


Mistress Anna said...

I feel your pain..On the Polish jokes. I have Czech/Slovak parents. Suffice to say I had my share. On more that one occasion I was lumped in with the Polish - not that there's anything wrong with that

Wait am I first?

Mistress Anna said...


quilldancer said...

Mutha -- my grandma would have liked your grandma!

al said...

There's one about a safecracker who tied up the safe and blew the teller. But I can't remember if the guy was Polish, Italian, Irish, Croatian, or maybe just French...

Great guest visit, Mutha! Great word, Doug!

puppybrose said...

Mutha! i LOVELOVELOVE Mutha -- maybe even MORE so now that i know a bit more of your heritage, of which you have good reason to be proud. and i'm sure that once Doug actually manages to get around to doing a "proper" introduction, we'll all be able to love you even more. (no jokes here about how many "dawgs" it takes to write a proper post...)

i'm originally from Central California, where Italian/Portuguese jokes are substituted for Polish ones -- especially between my step-dad (a "Wop") and his best friend (a "Portugee"). trust me, i've heard/laughed/sometimes cringed at 'em all.

well done!!

Anonymous said...

Mutha, I must admit the Polish had me at parogies. Funny, my best friend since childhood's Polish grandma also owned a bar, in a pretty tough neighborhood too. You would not want to mess with her. Mean old broad that she was.
I've beeen hooked since your first book reviews that I came across on your blog. I really didn't know there was an actual product called Shinola and here I've been using it in a phrase (which can't be printed here) for years!

Nicely done Mutha and as always Doug, you provide a fine spotlight.

Sar said...

Well done, Mutha! Clever use of the word in your mulitple definitions and your writing is as enjoyable a read as Doug indicated.

I had a great-babcha (babsha) and my family has a long-standing tradition of having babka made from her recipe on Christmas and Easter.

Anonymous said...


Good Morning!

Wonderful informational tidbits, very polished, Doug. I, too, love your Grandma! LOL Just what I needed at that age, too bad for me.

Have a great day! D :)

Joel said...

...all that and she (Mutha) lives just outside our favorite city in the world.

Nice job!!

Anonymous said...

Hurray for Slavic souls!
I don't own onemyself, but I wish I did.

I wonder if you'll teach me that phrase - I may also need it someday, if my dear dear muse suddenly becomes undear ;-)

Anonymous said...

Mutha! My favorite flash fiction writer.

Great descriptions of 'Polish' Mutha. I live in an area where there is a huge population of Polish and Russian people. I feel right at home with you :-)

p.s. your grandmother is a real gem!

Minka said...

Wow, Until recently I knew fairly little of Mutha, only to discover now that out roots are similar. All my family, as long as I can remember, comes from former Prussia. I was born in the German region of Mecklenburg Vorpommern. Very close to the Polish border....

wonderful guest this week!

Brian said...

Polish: The best deli on the block.

Mutha said...

Holy Moses -- it's a love-fest! Thanks everyone! And Sar -- I was tempted to add the recipe for babka in this post. But there is no real recipe -- just "some" of this,"some" of that, etc.
Yes, My grandmother was something else, for sure. She cursed in front of my husband the first time she met him and excused herself to him. That made me laugh so hard.

Thanks Doug -- you're a pal.

Mutha said...

Indie-- I could teach it -- but don't know how to write it...I would have to do it phonetically. I can honestly say the phrase is as rough sounding as it is in its meaning.

Doug said...

You were first, Mistress Anna. That's rare for a Bohemie.

Quilly, maybe Mutha grew up in your house.

Al, a Pole, an Italian and an Irishman walk into a bank. The Italian hits the guard over the head, knocking him out cold. The Pole blows up the teller and duct tapes the safe. The Irishman hands a bag full of money to the Italian. "What's that for? I'm no thief." the Italian says. "This isn't a bar?" The Irishman asks.

Shes a good one, isn't she, Puppybrose?

Thanks, G. Here's to old lady barkeeps! Cheers!

Sar, next time you throw a party, I'd like to try that.

Diane, I can't offer you a new grandma at a young age, but I give you Mutha. That's pretty good, right?

Minka, I'm glad you found a cousin. Maybe Mutha can share the link to the story of her gypsy aunt. I was in a rush this morning and couldn't find it, but you'll like that one.

Brian, and a fine sausage. Trust me.

Mutha, this site is all about warmth.

Anonymous said...

The thicker companion of spit.

Anonymous said...

Having never been a butt of jokes referring to my heritage (for I am not pure anything, only Scotch Irish, English, Canadian, Lithuanian, American - etc.)I can't relate to that part. But Mutha, may I point out that POLISH dogs are my most favorite variety, second only in my cravings to the Icelandic lamb pylsur (hotdog). GREAT GREAT GREAT!!!! Thanks to that other dog... Doug very nice guest spot today.

Sar said...

Mutha - Yes! You're right about the recipe. And don't you find each generation adds it's own touch so the recipe really becomes more and more unique?

And in your honor, I'll share with you the earworm I'm always struck with from your blogname (and I happen to love this song)...

Mutha, don't wanna go to school today
I think I'd rather go outside and play, yeah. - Extreme

And Doug, I'm afraid I won't be able to send you some for Easter since we'll be in Aruba and trust me, it won't be the babka baking there (SPF, SPF!).

Hey, my veri is "iwont" - HA! Punctuation be damned, that's funny!

Mutha said...

You're right Sar -- but my grandmother's babka -- to die for! Much better than mine -- so I don't think my meddling has done a bit of good.And all of my friends here who have not had babka -- it is a yeast based cake or a cakey bread. Sliced up, toasted and with butter for breakfast YUM!

Doug said...

Diesel, I thought that was blood.

Terry, this is a very pro-kielbasa website.

Sar, if you were as cool as you'd like to pretend it would have been Mutha, do you think they'll drop the bomb - Pink Floyd.

Mutha, it looks like set you up on a commenting-impaired day on blogger. I'd feel worse about it if that weren't getting to be a kind of day that comes daily.

Mutha said...

Quite alright -- it was fun Doug! But it always is at your pad.

weirsdo said...

Nice story, Mutha. It reminded me of my English friend who "helped" the Turkish guys who tried to pick her up by explaining that the phrase, "I only want to be of use to you" should really be, "I only want to use you."

puppybrose said...

so... to speak of all things Polish, and leave out Polski Ogorki pickles? i'm shocked. or at least surprised... or maybe i'm just mildly amused, who the heck knows? not that i eat pickles (not a fan), but i'm told Polski Ogorki's are very good (or so says my step-dad).

Mutha, i thought you made for a fantastic guest today -- trust me, comments are a commodity these days (oh wait, when's the last time i left one for YOU? that's my bad, and i shall remedy it prompty. or at least by tomorrow!) the blogosphere seems to be a bit clogged up these days -- no doubt it just needs more fiber (or pickles?)

Anonymous said...

I am part Lithuanian. Sadly, Lithuanians are so boring there aren't even any jokes about us!
I enjoy the Polish sausage, myself.

Tan Lucy Pez said...

I'm late! I'm late....

Good job Mutha and Doug. Very complete.

Doug said...

Glad you enjoyed, Mutha.

That's funny, Weirsdo. I hope they used that as a pick-up line on the next woman. Heck, it probably worked.

Puppybrose, pickles are chicken soup for the soul. Maybe. I don't eat them myself. Well, I had to say something.

Cheesemeister, we need a joke about a Lithuanian, a Latt and an Estonian on a raft, I think.

TLP, we were all late today. You just showed leadership qualities again.

puppybrose said...

i knew we had at least ONE thing in common. : P

Doug said...

Puppy, friendships have lasted on the strength of less than a shared of love of not pickles.

Anonymous said...

I think that would be a great joke. Now, is anyone clever enough to create one?
In other words, I'm not.