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Austin, Ep. 2

April 22, 2010 — Literary Death Match Austin's return — at Speakeasy, the 11th stop on Opium100's Monster Fundraising Tour — was a Texas-sized success that ended with Tyler Stoddard Smith narrowly besting Spike Gillespie 5-3 in a wild game of Wildly High Five the Co-Host Then Guess the Musical Artist. Smith, basking in new literary immortality, was crowned by Austin, Ep. 1 champ (and emergency judge) Amelia Gray.

But before the final song had been iPhone'd, the night — co-sponsored Writers' League of Texas and co-hosted by Todd Zuniga and Sara Ortiz — began with Gillespie going page-v.-page against Anna Mitchael (author of Just Don't Call Me Ma'am). Gillespie led off with a rollicking tale that had the audience bursting with laughs, followed by the LDM's most pregnant reader ever in Mitchael, who read a dazzling excerpt from her debut memoir

It was then time for the judges to take just-to-the-right-of center stage, as John Pipkin (award-winning author of Woodsburner), Owen Egerton (screenwriter/hilaritist/author of The Book of Harold), and Gray spouted comments, with Pipkin reading a haiku in response to Gillespie, Gray adoring Gillespie's spelunker-type reading light, and Egerton saying that he loved Mitchael's breasts — before then claiming love for his wife's breasts, and breasts everywhere. When they were asked to make a decision, they made the difficult call of awarding Gillespie the night's first spot in the final round. 

After a drink-fueled intermission, the second round saw Smith up against Les McGehee (author of Plays Well with Others). Smith came dressed in drag, a wild blond wig perched carelessly on top of his hair, and read a comedic story that brought the house down, that included a man wearing a tattered "Who Farted?" t-shirt that looked like a fart had burned much of it away. Next was McGehee, who was equally hilarious, as he read an excerpt from his debut book that kept the laughs at a maximum. 

Again the judges were leaned on, concluding with Egerton standing on his seat — much to the alarm of the Speakeasy staff — as he shouted in genius fashion about, well, we're not sure exactly what. But we know the onlookers loved it. Then after a brutal deliberation, Smith was named the night's final finalist. 

Then came the finale, which split the onlookers in two, half on Smith's team, and the other half siding with Gillespie. Then a song was played, and people on each team were asked to sprint forth, high-five co-host Ortiz's raised hands, then shout the name of the artist who was singing the song. An epic battle ensued, but once the score was 3-3, Smith's club never looked back, tearing through the final two songs — Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" and Feist's "One Two Three Four" — to give Smith a musical victory that brought Austin to its feet. 

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