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Chicago, Ep. 4

January 14, 2010—A wild finish, a wilder foursome of readers, and genius judging highlighted Literary Death Match Chicago, Ep. 4 at Fizz, in which featherproof booksJames Kennedy (The Order of Odd-Fish) outdoodled &NOW’s Davis Schneidermanin a hurried and competitive finale of Draw the Judges in 20 Seconds Or Less with Sharpies! — to take home the Literary Death Match medal and be ceremoniously crowned by Ep. 3 winner Spencer Dew. 

Before the LDM medal had been placed around the neck of its rightful winner, though, the night began with an opening round that featured Schneiderman leading off against Artifice's Rebekah Silverman. Schneiderman steered from the absurd to the fantastic, a performative kick-off that had the crowd in a bemused state of wonder. Next up was Silverman, who sifted pages from a book as she read what goes down in history as the shortest reading in LDM history: 2:34.  

Following both readers, the mic was handed over to the event’s trio of all-star judges, including author Kathleen Rooney (featured in Opium9), rockstress and critic Jessica Hopper and Shawnimals mastermind Shawn Smith. They traded quips, Hopper loving Silverman’s irreverence with the loosed pages, while Smith just wanted someone to clean the mess up. After a huddle, in which the the judges struggled to choose, they elected Schneiderman as the nights’ first finalist. 

After intermission, Round 2 began with James Kennedy taken the mic first before Subito Press’ Andy Farkas. Kennedy was a masterful performer, shouting insults from opposing characters in a fantasy world (the crowd booing, yaying and stomping their feet at different parts), and Farkas followed with a staid but alluring performance of a story that was an ad that was a story about real estate. 

Kennedy performs before the judging trio

The judges were once again in the spotlight, as Smith wanted to commission Kennedy to write up some Joust fan fiction, and Rooney and Hopper reeled off a series of barbs that had the tipsy crowd cheering. After another difficult decision, Kennedy won the split vote 2-1 to narrowly advance to the finals.  

Then came the whizbang finale, in which three volunteer “art critics” were invited on stage, and both Schneiderman and Kennedy were handed chisel-tipped Sharpies, and three blank sheets of LDM-sanctioned bright orange posterboard. In turn, the judges took to the center-stage stool in turn, modeling for 20, 18 and 19 seconds each while the finalists scribbled vigorously, with the aim to create the superior near-enough-likeness to win the art critics hearts. Kennedy won the first round, with a Hopper-based sketch that look like nothing human. Schneiderman punched back, winning the Shawn Smith round by drawing a Shawnimal ninja that beat out Kennedy’s effort. And with the match tied, the final art critic selected Kennedy’s Picassoian masterpiece (because of the smile) that made the final 2-1, and launched Kennedy into Literary Death Match immortality with his victory. 

Champ James Kennedy and intangibles Shawn Smith


Opium9 featuring cover artist Sean Landers

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