In Los Angeles, celebrating 10 years of a television show, a restaurant or the rerelease of a classic film tends to bring about red carpets, limousines and the pop of Champagne bottles, but when a literary event turns a decade old, it's often just a footnote in the city's consciousness: a whimper, not a bang.
Last night at the NOMAD art compound in Frogtown, Jim Ruland tried to make sure that didn't happen. Ruland, host of the underground literary event Vermin on the Mount, walked to the stage and grabbed a mic for around the 50th time in 10 years to introduce his cadre of indie authors.
Most people want to forget their awkward adolescence, burying ill-fated romantic conquests and pathetic attempts to fit in so deeply that the shame returns only in occasional, cringe-inducing flashbacks.
Then there are Dave Nadelberg and Neil Katcher. As co-producers of long-running spoken-word stage show Mortified, these 38-year-old Angelenos want you not only to acknowledge your repressed retrospectives but also to celebrate them — and share them in front of a roomful of strangers.
Unlike the Moth or other storytelling events that cover broader topics, Mortified focuses on what is usually the most awkward time in our lives: our second decade of existence, when puberty, bad hair, acne, ill-fitting clothes and desire for popularity — or even mere acceptance — lead us to say, do and, most importantly, write the most naive, stupid or (unintentionally or not) thoughtful things.
Mortified started 11 years ago when Nadelberg, then an entertainment journalist and TV writer, found a love letter he'd chickened out on sending to his high school crush. It. Was. Mortifying.
This week, one artist turns pop icons into haunting, dripping messes and another visits a burning volcano again and again.
5. Do architects believe in truth?
"I've been told to tell you that the slides are out of focus intentionally," said architect Tom Mayne in 1976, introducing a lecture by his colleague Coy Howard. After Howard got up in front of the audience at SCI-Arc, he began by addressing Pico Boulevard: "You consist of asphalt, cement and largely cheapish small buildings. ... You jerk through the city, stoplight to stoplight, like a blunt knife through an unfeeling body." Then a woman interrupted, telling Howard to raise his right hand and swear to tell nothing but the whole truth before he went on to talk about his fellow architects, whom he said probably didn't really believe in truth. Mayne, who won the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 2005, and Howard will give the keynote lecture at SCI-Arc's symposium on architecture's past and future this weekend. 960 E. Third St., dwntwn.; Fri., June 14, 3-9 p.m., and Sat., June 15, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (213) 613-2200, sciarc.edu.
Over the weekend, Improv Olympic became a Scripted Olympic. From Thursday through Sunday, Hollywood's iO West Theater hosted its first annual L.A. Scripted Comedy Festival, featuring a collection of talent from across the country showcasing sketch, variety, storytelling, stand up and short films.
The event marked a departure from the improvised comedy that defines iO. According to James Grace, the coordinator of SFC, this venture was an organic evolution for the theater.
"iO West has had an explosion of sketch, solo, storytelling and stand up shows over the last year," explained Grace during a pre-festival interview. "So featuring all the talent at this theater in L.A., and across the country, seemed like a natural progression. The industry is always looking for product and scripted comedy is the best way to consistently showcase talent."
"Grab the nearest stranger..." Oh shit. Here we go.
This is how film director and artist Miranda July chose to begin her performance piece Auction last night at Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA's Freud Playhouse.
Where we were sitting, the nearest stranger didn't want to be touched, and the next-nearest stranger, a winsome elderly woman, was a little too cool with it.
July then proceeded to list all of the things that may or may not happen with this stranger, everything ranging from the possibility that we may end up dating one of their friends, to losing this person to the ravages of drug addiction. We were certain she had all of it wrong with our particular next-nearest stranger -- until she got to death. "This person may die soon..."
Then we had to sit there for the next 90 minutes thinking about how our nice elderly next-nearest stranger might actually get there sooner than everyone else in the room. July asked us all to squeeze that person who we'll one day let go of.
We'd already let go. Physically.
Apparently the hormones that doctors give you when you donate eggs make you so horny that you want to be gang raped, rotating from man to man while lying on a giant lazy susan.
Or so I learned last week at the one-year anniversary of the no-boys-allowed storytelling show, Sunday Night Sex Talks, which takes over the Red Room in the back of Bar Lubitsch on the first Sunday of each month, doesn't allow men to perform or watch and asks the audience to take a vow of privacy to prevent racy details about well-known female performers like Jennifer Hall from NBC's Up All Night and Stevie Ryan from VH1's StevieTV from going viral. (Hence my inability to share the name of the performer who said she wanted to be gang raped. The organizers said we could divulge details as long as they didn't have names attached, and allowed some other details with names, below.)
Other lessons? Doing lines of coke off a toilet bowl with the stripper who just gave your husband a lap dance will not make you feel better about your sexless marriage. At least one straight man out there loves to play with dildos. If you get ringworm the day after you realize you're a lesbian, God is probably not punishing you. And at least one woman in Los Angeles considers her gynecologist the only man who "actually really" knows her before he puts his hands inside her.
Another great week for live comedy, including Florence Henderson and a comedy smackdown.
The wickedly funny and adorable duo of Riki Lindhome and ukulele-player Kate Micucci celebrate their fourth anniversary and the release of their new Slippery When Moist CD. Largo at the Coronet, Thurs., Oct. 18, 8 p.m.
Literary Death Match is ready for its close-up. The acclaimed reading series presents LDM TV: The Pilot at Largo on Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. with a slew of special guests, including Michael C. Hall, Diablo Cody, Moby, Jenny Slate, Jillian Lauren, Moshe Kasher, Ben Loory, Jeanne Darst and Adrian Wyatt. LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga explains.
So you're pitching Literary Death Match to the networks. Do you have a handy slogan to describe the show to these execs?
We'll stick with the usual "four authors, three all-star judges, two rounds and one epic finale" but pitchwise, it really comes down to: There's a reality TV show for everything on the planet -- from cooking to picking apart abandoned storage lockers -- but not the books? When everyone on the planet is a writer these days? Well, we have just the show for you.