Saturday, December 31, 2005

What They Said

“Punk classicism, wherefore art thou pierced? Straight through the cerebrum, that’s the Elliottic goal. Once there was a gang of five, the Pussy Poets were their name, and Anne Elliott appeared at that pulsing point where the poem and the perfing of that poem generated a new poem. Far beyond the speed of lite, she gets heavy without weighing you down. Pressed into action like a pair of pants.”
--Bob Holman, Poemfone: New Word Order

“Anne Elliott is our fourth slammer. She has a classic Northern European look, which is an extraordinary contrast to the first three poets’ presences. Her projection is melodic, though her verse is a muscular line of thought woven delicately and interlaced with musical accents. She is ‘the all new Gregorian chant,’ as Holman has just characterized her from the stage. The audience has felt at one with his characterization, and indeed it is in sync with what we now begin to hear. Someone from the audience exclaims, ‘We are in the intestines of a dark devil!’ This judgment is anonymous, it is impossible to identify who among the 250 people present has said it, yet it goes directly to the heart of the matter.”
--Miguel Algarin, Aloud: Voices From the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe

"Anne Elliott’s breakneck delivery may send the more techno-minded scrambling for their samplers.”
--Andrew Beaujon, College Music Journal

“Former Pussy Poet Elliott writes lucid, translucent dream-poems..."
--Evelyn McDonnell, The Village Voice

“...especially notable were Anne Elliott’s visceral renderings of stressful situations..."
--Ann Powers, The Village Voice

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

No White Christmas for Wilbur



Poor dog, snow everywhere, and all of it slushy and gross. Wilbur didn't get his usual Buffalo Christmas of fluffy powder. What's a husky mix to do? He romped in the mud, and had way too many baths for his taste. I kept thinking of watching the Iditarod one year when they had little snow. Not too fun for the dogs. Or the mushers.

Speaking of mush, here's a tired dog taking a nap next to my mother-in-law's tree. Lots of twitching and rabbit chasing, which entertained us all, since there were no children present. We had to make do with sleeping dogs.



And I got to kiss my sister-in-law's rescued horse Sundance, who kept checking my parka pockets for cookies:



Wilbur helped my sweet husband with the driving too.

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Proj Time: Cat's Cradle Improvements.



Well, I experimented. I've been fooling around with graph paper and colored pencils, making "Anatolian" designs for crocheted blankets. I was so inspired on our trip to Turkey last winter, been wanting to try this for awhile. Here's the first foray. I've figured out how to make it reversible with minimal loose threads to weave back in later. It's machine washable, Red Heart Light n Lofty, all single crochet. And I think Boo likes it.

(You can see a little of a hooked rag rug my great-grandmother made underneath the cradle. She was inspired by the Navajo. Guess this cross-cultural stealing runs in the family. Local technique, with bastardized-colonized pattern.)

Here's a clean shot of it before he ruins it with his damn shedding (you can see a hair on it already!)



The Tiny Lions in Winter


You may have been wondering how our little feral cat colony is doing now that temperatures have finally dropped. The good news is that all six are alive and appear to have no new health problems. We don't see too much of them, since it's too cold to wait on the stoop for food. They come round in small groups when the hunger bug strikes. All but Rrose are receptive to petting. Their fur is cold.

Feral cat specialists have all sorts of advice on helping the furry ones survive the season. Groovy shelters made of styrofoam home insulation, lined with straw, are the best. Of course, frozen water is another problem. There's no low-tech solution to that.

Our guys seem to have formed cliques this winter. Pictured is one clique, Junior and Elvis Memphis, who have been keeping each other warm in the rafters of our garage. Better digs are available, but these guys are too afraid of the bigger cats to learn. They seem to be the battered geek clique. I want to tell them it'll be so much better after high school, I swear!

Vince is a clique of one. He appears to be bunking in the basement of the apartment building next door. I think he gets along with someone human over there, who leaves a window ajar. He begs to come inside by the fire, and I think he might be ready. Anybody want a friendly, but aggressive, drooling cat? (He drools when he's happy. Part of the kneading ritual. Some cats hump, this one drools.)

And the other three, Rrosie, Marcel, and Elvis Vegas, appear to be hiding out somewhere down the block, probably the same spot where Rrose used to go to give birth. Haven't figured out where, but it's likely a doghouse or warmer garage.

Meanwhile, the indoor crew is doing its best to keep the gas bill down, piling on top of us at bedtime in a big, snoring mass. Sweet dreams.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's Really Happening

OK, day two of the transit strike, and like any crisis, it appeals to New Yorkers' vanity. Look how I solved this problem of getting to work! How clever we all are! I have a scooter! I have skates! I wore two pair of socks and walked!

Of course I'm reacting to people in the news media, because I haven't yet joined the fray myself. I'm telecommuting. Which from a vain New Yorker point of view is a totally pansy approach. I was thinking I could make my husband drive me to the 59th Street bridge, then I'll walk over. Or try to hitch a ride with strangers from one of the carpool staging areas. Then I'll be One of Them! The strong people walking over bridges and meeting strangers!

But it doesn't make financial sense, using that gas, taking all that time, when I have a perfectly good net connection at home. So I stole my husband's comfortable desk chair, and I'm actually getting a lot of dayjob work done. I'm about to login now, so no more web for me today.

Therefore, no exciting strike stories from me, at least not yet. For kicks, I've been checking in on Overheard in New York.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I Haven't Been Slacking, I Swear


This projaholic hasn't blogged in over a week. Am I getting over my blog addiction? Sadly, no. But other addictions have been taking over my time.

Namely:

1. Knitting (see photo). I'm nearly finished with this Christmas present for my mother in law, an afghan knitted/crocheted in Red Heart Light n Lofty (for you knit nerds out there). It's four panels of stockingette with a granny square in the middle, and single-crocheted strips inbetween and around the edges. Not the warmest blanket ever (big-ass needles leave gaps), but it did go together pretty quickly. It looks like a big window with four panes, about 4' x 5'. All I have left is weaving in the ends of the outside border. It's a good thing the MIL doesn't use the web, or the surprise would be ruined.

Of course now I have to cook up a plan for the leftover yarn. I'm thinking an afghan for our indoor cats (cats are very appreciative recipients of afghans...especially machine-washable ones), and I'm screwing around with some Anatolian kilim designs inspired by the incredible textiles we saw on our trip to Turkey last February. I promise I'll post photos, if I get it done, pics with and without cats. Angus, our formal-feral, is a good collaborator on the knitting projects. Leave him alone with a ball of yarn and it's like Eva Hesse came through the house.

2. Pruning my overgrown novel. Thanks to some excellent advice from the sweetest rejection letter I ever got, plus the support of my awesome writer's group and writing class, plus some mutual cheerleading on Zoetrope.com, I've been turning the novel formerly known as THE GLORY HOLE to the novel now known as ORANGE AND WHITE (at least that's today's title). Going from three protags to two, and making it much more "women's fiction" than before, for those of you who have seen previous incarnations.

3. Walking. It's the one form of exercise that hasn't bored me yet. Even yoga has gotten old. Maybe I'm warming up for the transit strike, which may or may not happen next week. Of course I've been walking around the neighborhoods Flatbush and Flatlands, which are, true to their names, and make Manhattan look downright hilly. Maybe I'll venture to Park Slope tomorrow.

4. Gigging. I had two excellent gigs since I last checked in here, both to audiences I hadn't met yet. At the Sunday Salon in Williamsburg, I was wholly impressed by my co-readers, and my story "War" went over pretty well. At the CLMP Periodically Speaking series, I learned what an idiot I am for never setting foot into the central NY Public Library until now. Been here 14 years, and never saw that gorgeous interior. A great place to sit and write, or look at prints and illuminated manuscripts. A free museum, rare in this burg. And the asses on the big lion sculptures are really cute! Why did I only look at their faces before now? Seriously, it's only six blocks away from my job! I read "Monsters" by Max Ruback, representing zingmagazine, which I learned is possibly the coolest artmag I've ever seen. I'll be subscribing. (Just what I need. Magazine subscriptions, yet another addiction.)

5. Okay, now the embarrassing addictions: CSI reruns on Spike TV every night. I'm driving my husband crazy. Ricky Gervais podcasts. Have you discovered this yet? Su Doku and crossword puzzles in the free Metro paper. I've become one of those annoying people who does puzzles on the train. Popcorn: cheese flavored, butter flavored, caramel flavored, chocolate-drizzled. The trading desk at my job is covered with it. I'm getting weighed by my doctor Monday, and fear my blood pressure will go up purely over the fear of being weighed. And the transit strike won't save me this time; that doesn't happen until Tuesday. I told my husband this morning, looking at the obese people in the diner around us, "Hey, I'm not the only fat girl in Brooklyn. Right?" He said, "You know I'm not touching that. " True, there is no right answer to that question, but also true, I'm not the fattest person in this borough, and defintiely not the fattest in this country. But skinny husband with his plate of 3 eggs, corned beef hash, side of bacon? It's not fair! (Side of grease with that?) Vegetarian me with my oatmeal and skim milk. I'd hate him if he were a girl. He doesn't even have to try.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Thaddeus Touch

I'll be honest: I'm biased, I planned to like TETCHED, Thaddeus Rutkowski's latest novel, and it went according to plan. I'm a fan of Rutkowski's fragments or "fractals," kernels of prose inside chapters and sections that echo the smaller kernels. Reading Rutkowski is like opening a matrioshka doll, playing with the parts, then putting her back together.

For fans of Rutkowski's first novel, ROUGHHOUSE, the first half of TETCHED returns to that home territory. We hang with the Caucasian, loose-cannon, stay-at-home father, who plots armed revolution, drinks, brings a drifter into the house, and blames his failed art career on his kids. We savor moments with the pragmatic, but enigmatic Chinese mother, who blends her medical knowledge with cryptic stories from her childhood. And we anchor ourselves to the loveable, unnamed narrator, an ethnic anomaly in his rural high school, who has a pyro streak and explores issues of control (and lack thereof) with his own body, through self-torture.

What makes TETCHED and the rest of Rutkowsi's oevre remarkable to me is the emotionally cool tone of the "fractals" of text. It is not cool-for-coolness'-sake. The unsafe terrain of home is inherently charged, and could become melodramatic in the telling. But the language here has an organic humor akin to the self-experimentation of its narrator, more curiosity than wit, more let's-see-what-happens than let-me-tell-you-what-happened. Instead of hearing a confession, we get to experience the snapshots of memory from a simultaneously detached and internal place.

The effect of this choice is interesting: instead of responding to emotional promptings in the text, I have a response to the cumulative effect of the cool-curious moments. In the case of ROUGHHOUSE I closed the book with a feeling of melancholy. (A friend had a similar reaction: she "just wanted to hug" the protag.) But in the case of TETCHED, while the material is similar in content, the emotional effect, for me, was far different. The key is in how Rutkowski arranges the pieces. TETCHED has a certain giddy glow.

The narrator of TETCHED does manage to escape the tyrrany of his childhood homestead, but he keeps his bondage/pain fetish, and artfully refines it. This is book is from the lighter, left-field category of bondage-lit, and this protagonist is one resourceful guy.

I won't give away too much more, but I will recommend. It's an especially good read for fiction writers transitioning from shorter to longer works, who might find his approach mechanically instructive. If you're not a Rutkowski fan yet, get a taste at one of these publications: Land-Grant College Review or Small Spiral Notebook.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I'll Be Reading December 11 and 13

December 11:
I'll read my own stuff, probably fiction, in my own borough, which I like. Sunday Salon Series, 7PM, 766 grand street, Brooklyn, 11211(L to Grand, 1 block west). My coreaders are Jackson Taylor, Ellis Avery, and Thomas Hopkins. More info at the link.

December 13:
I'll be reading a story by Max Ruback, who is unable to attend to represent Zing magazine at CLMP's Periodically Speaking series. I'm so stoked to be on the mic at the NYPL, I can't tell you, and honored that Max asked me. Also repped will be Tin House and Mad Hatter's Review. It's 6 - 7:30 pm in the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room of The New York Public Library's Humanities and Social Sciences Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd St. (Please use Fifth Avenue entrance). For more information, call 212.930.0876. Free.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Indie Press Book Fair--Shopportunity!

One of my favorite annual NY events is this weekend, December 3 & 4, the Small Press Center's book fair. Not only will books be available for purchase from awesome presses like Akashic, Soft Skull, and Manic D, but there will be panel discussions, author signings/readings, how-to-get-into-print info sessions, and even an open mic. I'll be there! Maybe this will wrap up my holiday shopping early.