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LDM TV: LA, Ep. 18

12/12/12 — On "The Greatest Night in Literary History," LDM TV: The Pilot's second show (LA, Ep. 18 at Florentine Gardens) was a miracle of calamity and wonderment, as novelist Simon Rich out-score co-finalist and best-selling author Jillian Lauren in The Hunger Game — a mix of author-name unscrambling and cupcake-tossing in which Rich won the day by an 8-7 margin winning him the LDM TV: The Pilot crown.

The night began with the bow-tied and twinkling-jacketed Adrian Todd Zuniga storming the "stage" — in this case a full-size boxing ring — and with whooping Michael Buffer-like tones, he summoned the night's first pair of combatants: novelist Simon Rich (What in God's NameAnt Farm: And Other Desperate Situations) and
author Jeanne Darst (Fiction Ruined My Family). 

Rich struck the first blow, leading off his 3-minutes-or-less with a story about going back in time to kill Hitler as a baby that drew uproarious laughs. He closed with an elegant, soft-toned piece about Missed Connections for dogs. Zuniga then invited the judges to chime in, with Susan Orlean (author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life of a LegendThe Orchid Thief), saying about Rich's work that it was filled with "beautiful slice of life moments, very evocative. Very moving." Next up was Moby (Play; Destroyed) who said, "Your humor is laconic and subdued. The dog sex resonated with me." He went on to tell the tale of his own dog, Walnut, defecating a piece of dental floss. "Your story took me back there." Finally, it was Key & Peele co-star Keegan-Michael Key who spoke about the rightness of killing a baby if it was Hitler, and then went on to say that his dog was sexually frsutrated. "I'm not going to go to bed tonight with bare legs." 

Next up was Darst — who came ready for battle, in boxing shorts, a copy of Strunk & White in her tweed jacket pocket, and a blackened eye. She read from "Painters on Bicycles" — an excerpt from Fiction Ruined My Family. A chapter she wanted to call "Unrequited Cunnilingus" in which she admitted that she was at Purchase "because I was an academic fuck-up which looks a lot like being an artist." Zuniga then turned the show over to the judges once again, with Orlean saying of Darst's work, "That was a little bit like the Bible meets 50 Shades of Grey. Two extraordinary pieces of literature and you brought them together. I bow to you." Moby was up next, referring to his notes, "I don't hear very well, so the first thing I wrote was Penguin cunnilingus. Then I wrote on a bicycle. Then I got distracted thinking about how you would do that — how you'd go down on a penguin on a bicycle." Finally, Key who found her appearance alluring. "It's like Mickey and Rocky ran into one another and became one organism." 

Zuniga then asked the judges to make the impossible decision of choosing a finalist. After much consideration, it was Rich who was given the nod, with deep regrets that both couldn't advance. 

Then the show raced towards Round 2, which saw New York Times best-selling author Jillian Lauren (Some GirlsPretty) up against master-poet Beau Sia (Def Poetry Jam; author of The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time). Lauren was up first reading an excerpt from Some Girls, in which she met the Sultan of Brunei in Kuala Lumpur, who asked asked if she liked his country (even though they weren't in his country). "The world was his oyster," Lauren read. "Everywhere was his country. And not in a John Lennon kind of way." The judges were then under the spotlight once again, with Orlean saying Lauren's excerpt was "Lawrence of Arabia meets Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" and that there was a lot of tension in the piece, and t was a "beautiful work." Moby was next, first mentioning how he had a cameo in her book. "I identified because we've both been professional sex workers." Finally, Key said that when she said KL he heard Kel-El. "Wait, did she take a helicopter ride to Krypton? Oh! KL.

Then came the night's most dynamic performer in Beau Sia, who read "Boys Will Be Boys" from The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All-Time. Which featured constant gems like: "Everywhere I go there are still men hung up on their cocks." "Still fighting like winning erases loss." It was ultimately an epic that touched on the history of misdirected masculinity, and the history of being a little girl alongside it. "A little girl is more than a politician's humanizing story." "It's within the feminine that you'll find the code." The judges were agog, admonishing Sia in countless ways. Orlean went first: "I can't believe you memorized that whole thing" and "Another title would be 'The Poem that Mitt Romney Would Most Hate.' It's Kurt Cobain rewrites The Waste Land. Massive. Loved it. Total score." Then Moby chimed in ironically saying, "In the future you might want to make a little more effort performance-wise. Something a little bit staid and reserved." And batting cleanup, Key said, "Somehow you are blacker than I am. I was sitting thinking how am I going to be blacker before I make comments. Or they won't have any weight." Then talked about Sia's walk. "Can you teach me how to saunter like that? Do you know how to walk normally? You just saunter. Those pants require it, but you own it so much." 

Then the judges were asked again to make an impossible choice, and after a huddle that almost came to blows, they emerged to announce Lauren as the night's second finalist. 

Then Zuniga welcomed Rich back into the ring to face off in a wild "The Hunger Game" epic versus Lauren. Each was tasked with unscrambling two author names — one four letters long; one five — then throwing vegan cupcakes through the mouths of Eating Animals author Jonathan Safron-Foer and Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser. Rich went first, unscrambling names with velocity before scoring eight cupcakes through Safron-Foer's mouth with nine seconds to spare. Lauren was up next, having to beat 8 cupcakes. She started fast, but it was the scrambled name Twain that threw her for a time-sapping loop, and by the time she was firing cupcakes — with great accuracy, we might add — it was too little, too late. Time expired with her having only scoring 7 cupcakes through Schlosser's open maw, which meant Rich was crowned champion, and handed the Literary Death Match Heavyweight belt to wrap around his slim waist. Indeed, Rich was king of the night, and literary immortality was all his! 

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