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NYC, Ep. 2

April 10, 2006—At the second-ever Literary Death Match in NYC, finalists Kristen McGonigle (Pindeldyboz) and Manuel Munoz (Swink) squared off in “Loooooooooooooong Division.” The equation: 964,562,148,321 ÷ 7. Munoz won in a landslide and carried home the LDM hardware.

In the first round, Shya Scanlon (elimae) tangled with Kristin McGonigle (Pindeldyboz). Scanlon teamed with visual artist James J. Williams III in a multimedia affair. Seated before the fireplace, Scanlon read from his recent poetic work, "In This Alone Impulse," while Williams III manned the slide projector. Images astounded, the words woo'd, and the packed house was delighted by the slide that featured a fish hook through a penis tip.

"I've been to plenty of readings where there were penises with fishhooks through them, but never one with apicture of a penis with a fishhook through it," said judge Ben Greenman of the New Yorker.

McGonigle followed with three stunning beauties that stood behind her wearing Pindeldyboz T-shirts, and hilarified the crowd with a story about the nightmarish experience of pounding the workday pavement.

The judges (Greenman and comedian Jack Kukoda, along with SFM LDM I champ Ted Travelstead) chose McGonigle. Scanlon seethed. "I was robbed," he said, in a postreading interview.

After a drink-filled intermission, the second round featured the suave Manuel Munoz (Swink) vs. the Mets-cap wearing Pauls Toutonghi (One Story). Munoz led off with an ear-melting accent as he read an excerpt from "The Comeuppance of Lupe Rivera" (from Swink #2). Toutonghi followed with a hangover-enhanced reading from his second novel. Exhausted, he was forced to sit during his reading. When the microphone flickered in and out, Toutonghi was unfazed, setting it on the ground, and belting out his story's finale.

In the end, the most tightly contested vote in LDM history ended with Munoz being named the finalist.

"The Literary Death Match would only be more thrilling if there were really fights to the death--of course, then I'd be dead. But I'll happily admit that the best man won," said Toutonghi, whose supporters reportedly raised him onto their shoulders and carried him from the venue.

In the finals, McGonigle and Munoz were each given a long division problem for the ages (if you're scoring at home: 964,562,148,321 ÷ 7). Munoz breezed through the equation in 27 seconds, while McGonigle looked paralyzed before the series of numbers, a thought bubble popping from her head once asking, "Is that an 8 or a B?"

Munoz's skills scored him the Literary Death Match Championship Trophy, along with the right to wear the diamond-encrusted tiara for the evening. "In one night I blew my life's long ambition to prove that math is not important," said McGonigle. "I'll see you in hell, Literary Death Match! In hell."

After the dust had settled, Munoz spoke about his victory. "After the underhanded showboating by the others, I was prepared to read shirtless to get that tiara, but opted for the sleep glasses instead. And even though I got heckled for my public school long division, I still won. Show your work, kids; show your work."

"Most readings are staid affairs, brimming with whimsy and self-congratulatory excess,” said Kukoda. “At this event, however, expectations of fun were exceeded, feelings were hurt, and whimsy had its brains dashed out upon the rocks of cold, hard reality. Also, I think Ben Greenman stole my copy of The New Yorker when I was in the bathroom."

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