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LA, Ep. 21

May 30, 2013 — Capping off a wild-times 6-city tour, Literary Death Match returned to the City of Angels — and our home at home: Busby's East — for a literary and comedic awesomefest that saw Dan Crane out-guess Margot Leitman in a blazing game of Pulitzer Prize Pictionary by a score of 11-4, to win Crane the LDM LA, Ep. 21 crown. 

But before the Sharpies were drawn for the finale, the night kicked off with Travis Sentell (screenwriter/novelist and author of Fluid) who told a story featuring a shit-filled (literally) sex doll dopelganger, anorexic clowns, and precise instructions for loading a clown car, all in a thick Bronx accent. Next up was Crane (co-author of To Air is Human: One Man's Quest to Become the World's Greatest Air Guitarist, and called "Bill Murray trapped in the body of Sid Vicious…" by The New York Times), who told a true story about deciding to buy a house in Echo Park — "with a slow eddy of raw sewage running through the basement" — against his Tarot reader's advice, as he promptly watched the home dissolve his marriage with a Scottish air-guitar groupie. 

The mic was then handed over to the trio of all-star judges: Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers & Telex from Cuba (a National Book Award finalist); Ali Wong (comedian extraordinaire, who's appeared on The Newsroom & VH1's Best Week Ever); and Kurt Braunohler, comedic, co-host of Hot Tub comedy show, and one of LDM's Funniest People on Earth 2013. As for Sentell, Kushner liked his subject-verb agreement and his Rosie Perez imitation, while Wong thought his sneaker-and-suit combo were very Justin Timberlake. Braunohler was reminded of the time he dated an Australian clown: "which, if you've never met one, Australian clowns are like vegans but instead of only eating vegetables they only eat cocaine and alcohol." He also gave the story an "11ty." As for Crane, Kushner wanted to hear him do a Scottish accent, because "Scottish people talk like they have a ball in their mouth. So that would have been nice." Wong thought for a minute that she's slept with Crane in San Francisco, but then realized she'd just seen his documentary. Braunohler wanted to know how much Crane paid for the house. 

After a painful deliberation, the judges made the tough call by naming Crane the night's first finalist. 

Following a booze-and-chatter filled intermission, Round 2 commenced with Leitman (a Moth Grandslam winner & author of Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase) had the audience in throes of laughter after telling a true story about how she thought she'd gotten pregnant when she was 13 because she let a boy French her cheek and she thought maybe some "leaked out" down there. Relief came from calling the 800 number on the back of the Tampax box. Finally, it was Kathy Ebel (TV writer of Cold Case and Law & Order) who read from her forthcoming novel Claudia Silver to the Rescue, a snippet about inter-office lust between a female production assistant and a part-peacock, part pit-bull dude with a saucy walk named Reuben. 

Again the mic was handed to the judges. About Leitman, Kushner related it to the time a pen broke in her mouth when she was 12 and she was convinced she was going to die. Wong said Tampax boxes = Pandora's box, and remarked on how toxic shock syndrome is such a totally made up thing intended to scare teenage girls into buying more tampons than they need, making EVERY woman in the audience laugh v. the zero men laughing. And Braunohler said he was breast-fed till he was 5, but "I'm 6-foot-4 and never get sick, so, you do the math." About Ebel, Kushner found Reuben horrifyingly sexy, and wondered if the thin sticky layer on the floor below all of our feet wasn't in fact semen. Wong was reminded that at 31, she's just learned that you have to quit skaters, unless you want to wake up in a mattress in the kitchen, but she admitted Reuben still got her hot and bothered, even though she knew better. And Braunohler, referring to the sports bar on the other side of the door, said, "fuck those guys. This is some literary shit going on in here."

Again, the judges struggled, but after a lengthy conversation they decided it was Leitman who would go on to be the night's second finalist. 

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga, who announced the night's finale: Pulitzer Prize Pictionary that tasked audience members with drawing the titles of Pulitzer Prize-winning novels. With Crane leading by a score of 6-4, and 5 points on the line, a pro-audience-drawer masterfully put Sharpie to paper until it was Crane who asked/said, "The Color Purple?" winning him the Literary Death Match crown, and literary immortality to go with it. 

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