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SF, Ep. 41 (Litquake)

October 13, 2011 — The special Litquake edition of the Literary Death Match stunned the standing-room-only crowd when Simon Rich's bag of silly string outweighed John Butler's by an axis-shifting 2.5 grams! That's less than a tenth of an ounce, in case you failed the Metric System in high school.

So momentous was the event, LDM founder Todd Zuniga himself took the stage to cohost alongside San Fran's favorite belle of lettres, Alia Volz. Only a seismically reinforced venue such as the Beatbox could contain the energy generated by this rare meeting of forces!

Speaking of critical mass, a unprecedentedly powerful panel of judges was assembled for the event: bestselling crime novelist, Laurie R. King on Literary Merit, Jill Solloway (HBO’s Six Feet Under) on Performance, and Glynn Washington (Snap Judgment) on Intangibles. 

The stage itself trembled in awe.

Round 1 took off with Myron Michael (Cave Canem fellow and HELIOTROPE curator), who dazzled the room with a set of powerful poems. Ah, but Emerald Isle transplant and novelist John Butler (The Tenderloin) was not fazed. He jumped into a tale about how a young Irishman's first SF hookup is derailed by a single digital (no, not as opposed to 'analog') disturbance.

The judges, their heads bent together in Solomonic concentration for what seemed like hours, narrowly handed the round to Butler! 

Round 2 began with Simon Rich (Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations) winning the toss and cavalierly deciding to read first. He delivered a series of short witty pieces that skated the line between hilarity and questionable taste. His opponent, another Emerald Isle transplant and mistress of flash fiction, Ethel Rohan (Cut through to the Bone), met the challenge with surrealism and sibling rivalry and a good soaking when she ran over time. Erin Go Broke!

The judges made much of Simon and Ethel's respective hair-dos, clearly favoring the latter's. But alas, after long deliberation, good hair hygiene and the luck of the Irish proved insufficient: the judges selected Rich as the winner of the round.

For the final challenge, Butler joined Rich onstage for a Silly String shoot-off that was both silly and strung out. The challenge: to see who could shoot the most "vegetarian" string through the mouths of Jonathan Safron Foer and Eric Schlosser. The first can, eyes wide open; the second blind-folded, with only the audience to guide their aim! Butler shot first and shot well.

Rich, for the second can, made a decision that would seem to ensure his defeat. He asked to eschew the wide-mouthed Schlosser target and insisted on using LDM stalwart and that evening's watergunnist, Paul Corman Roberts, as a target instead. Roberts, apparently eager to have something shot into his mouth, jumped to the stage and opened wide!

And yet! And yet! When the day was done, when the dust settled, when the Silly String was weighed, and the final judgment cast... Simon Rich STILL won the Literary Death Match crown, and literary immortality to go with it!

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