Up early on Friday Nov 12 to head up to San Francisco for Literary Death Match. The day didn’t start off very promisingly when Virgin America announced that the flight would be delayed for an unspecified time, which is never good. Apparently the aircraft was missing a part. “It’s not the wing or engine or anything like that, is it?” I asked the gate attendant. Very funny, sir. Anyway, they put me on a Southwest Airlines flight that unfortunately was flying to Oakland. On arrival, I made my way from there to SF using BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), which turned out to be very easy. But I was now almost 4 hours behind my originally planned arrival time.
LDM episode 35 was held at the Elbo Room on Valencia in the historic Mission District. It was my first time to participate in an LDM, invited by Alia Volz when I met her at Bouchercon. I had been told that it was a fun event so was looking forward to it.
Indeed, it was a blast. Alia and her co-host M.g. Martin were side-splittingly funny. The function began at 7 PM. I got there around 6:30 and was a little concerned when I saw there weren’t that many people. But like magic, the place became absolutely filled with people within about 20 minutes. Alia and M.g. welcomed us first with their brand of zany humor.
BTW, M.g. executed a soaring leap off the stage at one point, landed on his feet, and lived. I forget why he did this, but it was impressive.
So then it was time to get started. The idea was for the four author contestants including me to read or recite something of their creations, which would then be critiqued by a panel of three judges: Michael Krasny, Dennis “the Menace” Scheyer, and Nicki le Masurier
Don’t imagine some kind of abusive and brutal haranguing in the style of Simon Cowell – nothing could be further from that. It was all good-natured. The one major rule was that authors should not go over 7 minutes or they get doused with a Supersoaker. Nice touch.
The judges picked Thaisa. Congrats! Second round: slam poet Sam Sax against me. Our respective performances were as different as the genres we represented. Sam’s is a flow of volcanic energy that comes from a dark but infinite well of creativity. You get the feeling that he’s always questioning life, but sometimes with a sly smile. You can’t help but be mesmerized by him. In a way fitting with his free spirit, he did go over alloted time and was liberally super soaked to the audience’s delight.
Frankly, I thought I’d been clobbered by Sam, but to my most pleasant surprise, the judges gave the nod to me. But that wasn’t the end of the evening. I still had to go up against Thaisa, winner of the first round, and since I’d been told that we wouldn’t be reading twice, I was puzzled about what we were going to do next.
Well, it’s a little complicated to explain. With this LDM having a “social networking” theme, Thaisa and I were instructed to select at random members of the audience, all of whom had little cards bearing the names of different authors along with the number of novels they had written, e.g. Margaret Atwood, 16 novels, and by differentially selecting one out of pairs of authors whom we would preferred as “friends,” and then having the same number of audience members as the novels come up to the stage as “friends,” Thaisa and I competed for the largest crowd. Confused? You should be. Bottom line is that I garnered more friends than Thaisa’s side and was thereby declared the winner and crowned with a fluffy crown and a medal.
All in all a terrifically fun night, with many thanks going to Alia, M.g. and all the organizers, and to my worthy competitors who were every bit as good as I was.