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SF, Ep. 47

September 8, 2012 — On an ideal Bay Area night, an overflowing crowd packed into Elbo Room for a very special Literary Death Match, and what began with a soft-spoken motherly tribute ended in wild, sudden death fashion, as Colin Winnette outlasted Charles Warnke in a best-of-3 Literary Olympiad to win Winnette the Literary Death Match SF, Ep. 47 title. 

But before the finale was even a thought, the night started with a twist, as LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga gave a quiet introduction about his mother's death in January 2011, and her ongoing impact on LDM, before taking a step back before exploding on the mic to rousingly introduce the show. 

Then Round 1 kicked off with poet/author/playwright Kevin Killian (author of Impossible Princess and editor of the American Book Award-winning My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer) going up against novelist Colin Winnette (author of Revelations, and his forthcoming Animal Collection). Killian started with a Spicer poem about wanting to kill himself, then followed with a piece of his own about Kylie Minogue, in which he mis-hears her lyric "angelic motion" as "genital emotion." Winnette then followed with a crowd-pleasing micro-story (only 2:32 long) about a baby cheetah that ends in comic tragedy. 

The mic then went to the night's trio of all-star judges that included best-selling author/award-winning journalist Mary Roach (Packing for Mars, Spook and Stiff), Chronicle Books' publisher Nion McEvoy, and lounge singer extraordinaire Bud E Luv. Luv lauded Killian's work as "absolute genius" and said his first reading recreated Woodstock for bad acid trips, while Roach was reminded of her favorite mis-heard lyric: "the girl with kaleidoscope eyes" as "the girl with colitis goes by." About Winnette, McEvoy related the narrator's relationship to the baby cheetah and mused about possible economic problems, while Luv complained about the expense of the cheetah, and was reminded of the chapter of his book in which he discusses having to pay top dollar for good things (he cited Dean Martin). Roach was reminded of her time working at the SF Zoo where she made up a rumor about a cheetah. 

The trio then huddled and made their first impossible decision of the night, deciding it would be Winnette who would advance to the finals. 

After an elbow-rubbing intermission, Round 2 kicked off with New Yorker 20-Under-40ist and MacArthur Genius Yiyun Li (author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl and The Vagrants) up against Thought Catalog contributor Charles Warnke (writer of You Should Date an Illiterate Girl). Warnke lead off, loosing a 7-minute epic that connected Paris, London and Berlin, and a dying father who couldn't explain himself. Li was next, first announcing the exciting news that she was officially a US citizen, and then going on to read a different story than she usually would, because her kids weren't there to hear it, a story of a boy eager to find out about a girl's body. 

The mic once again went to the judges, with McEvoy applauding Warnke's piece for its richness, while Luv said Warnke's shoes alone were worth the price of admission. Roach declared the piece "riveting and intense." About Li, McEvoy said her piece was "well illuminated," while Luv, disappointed by all the sadness in the stories, declared, "In my day, we had happy poems!" and then sang a song in response. Roach was fully wooed, declaring her love for Li's pure, simple, brilliant images. 

Again the judges huddled, and again they had to make an intensely tough decision, but in the end, it was Warnke who was advanced as the night's second finalist. 

Then Adrian Todd Zuniga took center stage, introducing the finale, and welcoming gobs of volunteers on stage to help out. The finish featured three rounds: a book shotput, synchronized listening, and literary archery. Winnette was on point in Round 1, snaring shotput victory, but Team Warnke shot back to win the synchronized listening — co-acting out a Miranda July excerpt with a volunteer. It all came down to Round 3, in which each finalist and a volunteer had one shot each to hit the target: the lips of 1932 gold medalist in literature, Paul Bauer (a poster held by Alia Volz, LDM SF's executive producer). In the end, it was Winnette himself that had the truest aim, nicking the corner of Bauer's goggles to win himself the Literary Death Match SF crown, and literary immortality to go with it. 

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    We can avail the opportunity of building the proper and positive character with the proper education. The character can be the most attracting with the enough education. And others will attract more to us with the attraction of the education because it has the power of attraction in it.

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