June 10, 2011 — Literary Death Match's June Swoon return to San Francisco finished with a burning climax when Belo Cipriani beat out Lisa Catherine Harper in reconfigured version of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey." Leave it to LDM to violate even this most cherished of kids' party games.
Renowned redhead Alia Volz hosted, ably assisted by always funny Howard Johnson Jr., who spontaneously filled the quiet bits with challenging comedy.
The panel of judges was equally awe inspiring: the captivating Ivory Madison (Huntress: Year One) on literary merit, the sultry-voiced Renee Richardson (KFOG Morning Show) on performance, and the unimpeachable Michael Meehan on intangibles.
Round 1 kicked off with Lisa Harper's first-person narrative about a mother who deconstructs her children's inconsistent expressions of affection. while Tana Wojczuk took us to meta-mystery land, namely the curious real-life disappearance of mystery author Agatha Christie.
No one envied the judges the monumental task set before them, but after long and painstaking discussion they delivered their decision: Lisa Catherine Harper took the round.
Round 2... Let's just say that round deserves, in this observer's opinion, a special place in the Literary Death Match Hall of Infamy. Belo Cipriani made LDM history by reading a touching story not from paper or iPhone, but from Braille text embossed on his t-shirt. (Braille! Hello!) Paul Corman-Roberts followed with a mytho-poetic rant that would shame Robert Bly. (The phrase "agitporn" adheres to memory.)
After an extended deliberation (an interlude rendered intriguing by comedian Howard Johnson's takes on the politically corrected "editing" of Mark Twain's autobiography), the judges rendered their verdict, and Cipriani stood victorious!
For the final round, Harper and Cipriani returned to the stage, where host Alia Volz presented a choice of twists on the "Pin the Tail" game: "Pin the Cigar on Papa Hemingway" or "Pin the Reefer on Alice B. Toklas." Assisted by her audience-volunteer helper, Harper managed to pin the cigar to Papa's left nostril. Close but no... okay, so maybe it was an actual cigar BUT it was no splif, like the one that Cipriani deftly pinned to Alice B. Toklas's upper lip to win the round and the match!
Cipriani received the crown and the medal, plus two tickets to the Gertrude Stein exhibit at SFMOMA and a Green Apple Books Gift Certificate. I mean, come on! Braille on a t-shirt.
Only at the LDM.
Comments by Andrew O. Dugas.