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Oslo, Ep. 1

March 30, 2012 — The start of what we hope is a long-term love affair, Literary Death Match's Oslo debut at Blå was a night to remember — with only 12.5% of the show in English! — that finished with Hilde Susan Jaegtnes out-hooping co-finalist Jan Grue in a wild, Book Burning Basketball shootout that won Jaegtnes LDM's first-ever Norwegian crown.

The night kicked off with Round 1, in which Grue (author of Alt under kontroll) opened with a somber, disconcerting breakdown of the most important questions in the universe, followed by his answers which ranged from whimsical to profoundly metaphysical. He ended on a shrill note in exclaiming his hope that the next universe would exclude any possibilities of intelligent life forms. Fortunately, this brutal meaning-of-life journey was delivered in a smooth and calming voice with a dash of satire, to which judge Mai Elise Solberg (Vom and Ontz vocalist) attributed the pathos of a grandfather — but a grandfather who was not only wise, but also carried entertaining gossip under his belt — and shared willingly.

Up next was Guro Sibeko (author of VingespennCtrl+Alt+Delete and children's book Blodmånenatta), who countered with an intensely dramatic and stringently rhythmic/theatrical slam piece juxtaposing the abominations of diamond trade and human trafficking with the rather trivial problems of demanding upper class/royalty consumers who are ultimately to blame due to their willful ignorance. Judge Jørgen Munkeby (Shining's multi-talented frontman) spent a lot of time expressing his fascination with Subeko's singular use of the C-word and commended her for this, while judge Svein Egil Hatlevik (journalist/musician), having been instructed by LDM creator/host Todd Zuniga to include references to Norwegian writers, compared both Grue's and Subeko's work to Karl Ove Knausgård (for no other reason than to comply with the assignment).

In a very even match, the judges ended up sending Grue to the final round, citing how he kept his back impressively erect during his performance. 

After a drinks-filled intermission, Round 2 opened with a vocal explosion, as children's book author Reidar Kjelsen (the mind behind Otto Monster) spectcularly acted out all the parts (sans microphone) while relaying a story of a pig infiltrating a caged chicken-egg farm. The piece culminated with the pig being instructed by the mother hen on how to lay an egg, after which he squatted down — to the glee of the audience — to simulate the production of an egg-shaped poop. Judge Solberg, tuned in to the contestants' vocal techniques, applauded Kjelsen's unconvential use of his "outdoor voice," while Hatlevik was impressed with what he perceived to be a timely deconstruction of the terrible conditions of caged chicken. Munkeby hailed poop as a poignant and underrated literary topic.

Then it was time for the night's final reader: Hilde Susan Jaegtnes, who quietly dazzled with four surrealist poems, two of which received particular attention from the judges. The first was a poem about a mother bringing a lion to the house, and the other was a poem about a girl who never learned to walk whose secret boyfriend was the mail man. Judge Hatlevik thought the latter was a tribute to men owing to the line "I love men", while Solberg argued that the meaning was ironic. She also pointed out that Jaegtnes' vocal technique was akin to a ventriloquist's act. Munkeby added that he was hypnotized by her intimate microphone technique, and was thrilled that someone finally raised awareness of the rising problem of indoor lions in Norway.

On account of the judges' "gut feeling", in what was also an impossibly close call, Jaegtnes was sent to the final round.

Then Zuniga called for volunteers from the audience, in addition to his own lovely assistant Franzi. While Franzi held a basketball hoop in her steady hands, fiery Subeko volunteered to assist Grue, and a dashing man who removed his scarf climbed up to provide Jaegtnes with much-needed support. The finalists were then tasked with launching crumpled-up pictures of book burners towards the flaming basketball hoop (that wasn't flaming — it was mysteriously incapable of being lit on fire). The finalists then bombarded the hoop with the crumpled-up sheets at rapid-fire speed while the Scarfless Gentleman and Subeko served as rebounders. After a white-hot start from Jaegtnes, Grue couldn't catch up before Jaegtnes had sunk her fifth shot, which won her the Literary Death Match Oslo, Ep. 1 crown, and literary immortality along with it. 

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Reader Comments (1)

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