Friday
Jun112010

SF, Ep. 30

June 11, 2010 — All would agree: It was spectacular, and it was spectacle. The Literary Death Match's finest hour, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, saw a record-breaking audience witness an epic and sensational battle that concluded with Etiqueta Negra reader-rep Daniel Alarcón narrowly out-shining Porchlight's Beth Lisick by a score of 6-5 in a Literary Geography Bee that went down to the final, confusing, tie-breaker question. Alarcón, the event's ultimate champion, was sashed and medaled in front of a thrilled and raucous crowd. 

[Watch the highlight video now!]

But before the finale, the unpredictable evening kicked off with a LDM first during judge introduction. After co-host (and LDM SF executive producer) Elissa Bassist asked literary merit judge Susie Bright (author of Mommy's Little Girl: Susie Bright on Sex, Motherhood, Pornography, and Cherry Pie) about how to become a sex-positive feminist, Bright stood up, walked over, and snogged Bassist. Rattled and flushed, she asked Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano (What Would Brian Boitano Make?) if he could spin her. Boitano stood up, walked over, and kissed her. Staggered, Bassist readied to ask past-LDM champion Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket and author of Adverbs) a question, but he cut her off, marched over, and rocked her back with a kiss for the ages.

Daniel Handler & Elissa Bassist (photo by Timothy Faust). Click to see more!
The riled crowd settled surprisingly quickly to witness a first round that featured Jillian Lauren (Some Girls: My Life in a Harem) going up against Lost City Radio scribe Alarcón. Lauren led off, reciting a brutally honest and brilliant excerpt from her memoir that had the crowd ahh'ing with surprise, and Alarcón followed with an excerpt from his next novel — a funny, engaging and sharply-written piece that had the audience hanging on every word. 

The mic was then handed over to the trio of judges, with Bright expressing heartfelt praise for Lauren's reading, impressed by her ability to get to the grittier, romance-free sides of harem life that some would frivolously glamorize. Boitano praised Alarcón's piece, but felt like it needed more Swedish, then rattled off a series of Swedish-sounding words as an example. For both readers, Handler read apt passages from I Ching. After a deliberation, where the crowd watched this Opium fundraising commercial, Handler said after a tough decision, they favored Alarcón, sending him on to be the night's first finalist. 

The judges show their joy (photo by Timothy Faust). Click to see more!
After an intermission, Bassist and co-host Todd Zuniga went on a brief thanking spree: YBCA, Litquake, Global Lives, Onigilly, then kicked off a wild second round that saw Beth Lisick (Porchlight co-host and author of Helping Me Help Myself) lead off against performance poet Taylor Mali (The Last Time As We Are).  Lisick was fiery, reeling off a breakneck-paced tale about the fierceness of sexual wanting, followed by Mali who went from a poem about teachers being miracle workers, to a military-style poem that featured a someone holding his position like a man fucking his own dick. Yep. Amazing. 

The judges were then turned to once again, with Bright and Boitano pouring on praise, and Handler reading from I Ching once again, the second featuring these words of change: 

"Next days function, high class luncheon. Food is served and you're stone cold munchin'. Music comes on, people start to dance. But then you ate so much you nearly split your pants. A girl starts walkin, guys start gawkin'. Sits down next to you and starts talkin'. Says she wanna dance cus she likes the groove. So come on fatso..."

And the crowd roaring out: "Just bust a move!" After another painful deliberation, Lisick was given the nod, and named the night's second finalist. 

Then came the finale, a Literary Geography Bee in which images were flashed on a big screen, and Alarcón and Lisick were tasked with using Taboo board game buzzers to buzz in, and race to answer. Alarcón caught fire early, answering the first five — Dublin! Kazakhstan! Jhumpa Lahiri! Alexander Solzhenitsyn! Murakami! — but

 with only five questions to go, Lisick stormed back — Kubrick! Spain! China! Vonnegut! 1948! — and suddenly, the game was tied going into the tie-breaker question. Then the slide came up, a sloppy autograph by a famous writer. The contestants were asked to name a country, and the country closest to the country of the writers most famous book would secure victory. After a long pause, Alarcón guessed "India?" and — the answer was E.M. Forster's Passage to India — was crowned the Literary Death Match champion, and literary


immortality was his. 



 

 

Alarcon is the champion (photo by Timothy Faust). Click to see more!

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