Literary Death Match: Finally, I Won Something!

Last night I competed in my first Literary Death Match in Los Angeles. Miraculously, I didn’t have to go first (though I was in the first round and did lose the coin toss) and I did not take second place, as is my tradition in air guitar.

It was a lot of fun, and the readers and judges were all hilarious and utterly enjoyable. Kurt Braunohler was particularly genius, and if you’ve never seen his show Hot Tub at the Virgil every Monday night (that he co-hosts with the amazing Kristen Schaal), you should.

I read my recent piece from the New York Times, which I’m currently working on adapting into a book.

The show was very much like an air guitar competition, though there was no 4.0-6.0 olympic figure skating scale scoring, just a winner/loser for each round. The second round was “Pulitzer Prize Pictionary,” which I only won because someone shouted to me the final book, “The Color Purple.”

When I got home, Whisky wanted to wear my medal. How could I say no?

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Here’s who competed:
Margot Leitman, a Moth Grandslam winner & author of Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase
Travis Sentell, screenwriter/novelist and author of Fluid
Kathy Ebel, TV writer (Cold Case, Law & Order) and author of Claudia Silver to the Rescue
Dan Crane, co-author of To Air is Human: One Man’s Quest to Become the World’s Greatest Air Guitarist (and called “Bill Murray trapped in the body of Sid Vicious…” by The New York Times)

THE JUDGES
Literary Merit: Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers & Telex from Cuba (a National Book Award finalist)
Performance: Ali Wongcomedian extraordinaire, who’s appeared on The Newsroom & VH1’s Best Week Ever
Intangibles: Kurt Braunohler, comedic genius, co-host of Hot Tub comedy show

From the archives: The Easy Leis singing “Beauty Hula”

I was looking for something the other day and came across this version of an amazing Polynesian song my old band The Easy Leis used to perform in Brooklyn.

I remember us all listening to a cassette tape of this track, transcribing a few words at a time, then rewinding it, playing back. It took hours and our transcription was entirely phonetic but it sounds pretty close, at least, to a non-speaker like myself…

Here’s a video of an “actual” version of the track.

[youtube url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loEeS46yvNs]

 

Literary Death Match – May 30

I’ll be reading/performing/competing at Literary Death Match LA on May 30. 

It’s more or less like competitive air guitar, but with words…

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Where: Busby’s East, 5364 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles (map)
When: Doors at 6:30; Show at 7:35 (sharp); afterdrinks after
Cost: $7 preorder; $10 at the door

 

 

THE JUDGES  
Literary Merit: TBA!
Performance: Ali Wongcomedian extraordinaire, who’s appeared on The Newsroom & VH1’s Best Week Ever
Intangibles: Kurt Braunohler, comedic genius, co-host of Hot Tub comedy show

THE READERS
Margot Leitman, a Moth Grandslam winner & author of Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase
Travis Sentell, screenwriter/novelist and author of Fluid
Kathy Ebel, TV writer (Cold Case, Law & Order) and author of Claudia Silver to the Rescue
Dan Crane, co-author of To Air is Human: One Man’s Quest to Become the World’s Greatest Air Guitarist (and called “Bill Murray trapped in the body of Sid Vicious…” by The New York Times)

Hosted by LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga

 

Art Project – Using Old Glass Jalousie Window Slats to Make Art

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Whisky would prefer I throw her tennis ball than make art from old glass slats.

In my house I renovated last summer, most of the windows were the jalousie slatted glass type. They function like Venetian blinds, but they’re made of glass and don’t really offer much in the way of insulation or security. So, I decided to replace almost all of them.

(Unfortunately, the bulk of the replacement windows were crappy aluminum sliders—it was one of the first, and most expensive decisions I had to make, so I opted for the cheapest route. I wish I had done salvaged wood windows instead — which I did end up doing for several windows which turned out great).

IMG_0230Not wanting to throw anything away (I also had my contractor make a headboard out of the scrap wood from the ceiling) I kept the glass thinking, “One day I’ll make an art project out of these.”

I ruminated for months on what to do with the glass. My brother suggested making “sandwiches” of the glass using paint between each sheet and stacking them, letting the paint ooze out in between (a technique he’d done before with wood). But the glass was so heavy once you started stacking them, that this seemed unworkable.

Another idea was to paint the glass and then lean each slat against the wall using 2 nails to hold the slat. I was telling my friend John about the idea and he had the brilliant suggestion of buying a glass drill bit, drilling 2 holes in the glass, and then mounting them on the wall. So that’s precisely what I did.

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I made a template for the drill hole using a block of wood and this made measuring nice and simple.
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I had read that adding water as you drill kept the drill bit cool and prevented the glass from cracking. I only cracked a couple.

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Once all the holes were drilled in 10 pieces, I painted them with blue acrylic paint mixed with gel. I varied the texture of each one, sometimes using very little paint and sometimes using a lot. I also blended some with white paint to alter the hues.IMG_0037
I used aluminum spacers and rubber washers to make the glass look like it was floating off the wall (also one of John’s suggestions).

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Finished!




Thanks Everyone!

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Just wanted to say thanks to all the kind words from friends and random strangers about my story in today’s Times. It’s not exactly the story I ever thought I’d write, but it’s nice to know people liked it.

Here’s a photo collage I made that the Times wasn’t able to run showing the ceiling demolition.

Also – I didn’t really include the fact that the property is a duplex (and trust me, renovating two houses at once is even more fun!) I rent it out on Airbnb, so check it out and if you’re coming to LA anytime soon, perhaps you can stay here!

I’ll also note that the one thing that kept me from completely coming unglued was having a kick-ass contractor. Those are his legs dangling from my ceiling. If you’re in LA and you need a really nice, funny, totally honest contractor, let me know!

Piece coming out in NY Times

before-after

A piece I wrote about my trials and tribulations renovating a house (and the subsequent destruction of my marriage) will be coming out in the NY Times soon. I’ll post again about it…but here’s a before/after photo in the meantime.

Welcome to my new site

droppedImageThanks to Apple’s idiotic MobileMe debacle and their discontinuation of iWeb, I’ve moved my site to WordPress. I’ll be updating it periodically with news and other exciting things. Thanks for stopping by.