Thursday, June 14, 2007

Northeast Slam - The Running Diary

This is another poetry post, so most of you don't care.

All right. For those of you still reading, I had a funny idea the other day. People liveblog lots of crazy things - sports games, political debates, what have you. Liveblog is a term some people use for running diary. Whatever.

So when I realized Cantab was having their big bruhaha nationals-style Team Slam last night, I thought, "What the hell... no one else will be writing about it."

So here it is, my entire minute-by-minute account of the night.

Let's see if I can get through this without pissing anyone off.

8:05 - Our host for the evening - Ryk McIntyre! Looks like Simone decided to take the night off to make the slam more "fair," as though everyone in the room doesn't know who she is. Ryk kicks things off with a fable. The cool thing is, he doesn't tell people to shut up or anything, they just do as soon as something even vaguelly poetic sounds like it's happening. After that, Ryk promises that there will be “no sucky poems tonight” And I’ve already got an urge to write a joke about a certain team. Yeah, this diary isn't going to go well.

8:07 - Artie Moffa reads a letter from Jeff Buckley to Bob Dylan, in which Buckley apologizes for making fun of Dylan. He says it’s for some gaffe he made over the weekend, but I’m pretty sure he’s talking to J*Me.

8:13 - Aaaand we’ve got our first double-long poem reader of the night. I had slot 3 in the pool.

8:15 - Fifteen minutes into the night, and Ryk already seemed panicked about time. I think if he talked any faster, someone would offer him a job selling tiny cars.

8:17 - Artie has already leaned over my shoulder at least six times to ask what I'm writing about him.

8:20 - Someone reads a poem they wrote when they were five. They claim. I didn't think five year olds could spell "urethra."

8:21 - Okay, I feel bad about that joke, really it was about leaves.

8:22 - Ryk’s just announced that The Colonel will be hosting part of the open mike... and the crowd goes nuts! New Hampshire must be in the house. Does this mean Mark's not on the NH slam team? This should be interesting at any rate.

8:26 - Didn't have to wait long for that. Ladies and Gentlemen: The Colonel! It's a little surreal to see him hosting here, but he's not bad. I mean, his first two jokes flop, but he's got stage presence.

8:31 - Just had a brilliant heckle by Simone. A guy gets up and says, "This poem is called 'Lonely Candle.' It's about...a lonely candle." To which Simone yells, "Poet!"

8:32 - Colonel promises to beat anyone who goes long over the head with the music stand. Which would be twice as awesome if he meant it, and a hundred times as awesome if it happened to, say, John Stern. I like John Stern and all, but I'd pay money to see his reaction if the Colonel tried to beam him with a music stand.

8:33 - Brian Ellis announces Christopher Kain's candidacy for president. You have my vote, Chris.

8:41 - Sharyn claims that last week was so bad, she's going to try being sober all night. And I'll be shocked if Jamei Bauer lets it happen.

8:50 - My burger is here. Be back in a bit.

9:03 - And we’re back! Holy crap. Okay, remember that online dating poem I do that seems to piss off everyone in their own special way? Well, some guy just got up there and laid down a fantastic piece reaming me out for the part where I make fun of World of Warcraft. Specifically called me out. The funny part is, he seems to have mistaken me for someone who’s NOT a giant geek. I'm shocked to learn that I spend so much time getting laid and buying underwear for my girls at Victoria Secret! Artie calls it, "the best geek poem ever!" and while I won't go that far, it's pretty hot. “You call it facebook, I call it a character sheet.” Amazing. It gets one of the biggest reactions of the night, which just goes to show you, at a poetry night, you can never go wrong by betting geeky.

9:06 - James - you know him as That Weird Guy - has been reading Tennyson poorly for 3 minutes. Help.

9:08 - Five minutes. Someone get that music stand.

9:11 - The microphone goes. This is always fun.

9:14 - Simone goes scurrying down the side wall trying to find the microphone problem. Turns out it was partially... my fleece being on the cord? We might need to look into some new cables or something here.

9:18 - April gets up. I promised her this post would be mostly about her butt, so I won't list all the lines I liked in this poem. Still I love when someone gets up and the good poets get excited. As April reads her title, Brian squeals in delight like a school girl. Then in his own defense he croaks, “It’s gonna be pretty!”

9:22 - Tony’s really sticking with this Kaeper Funkhauser stage name. You have to give him points for persistence.

9:23 - Christopher Kain just did a poem inspired by 1two5. The next sound you hear might be your own head exploding.

9:27 - Jess reveals that her new boything is neglecting her, which is pretty stupid of him when you consider that she's in front of like 100+ people who want to do her.

9:29 - Ryk McIntyre delivers the out of context quote of the night: "Right now I have two penises, but what I want are two penises and three vaginas."

9:37 - Some people really don’t know what “two short poems” means. If your poem has two pages, it’s not short. You never see this shit out of the regulars. Once you've had a couple, "Oh shit what am I reading tomorrow?" Tuesdays, you lose that urge to burn two poems on Wednesday.

9:38 - Ryk is officially barefoot. Even I wouldn't do that here, and I've done it in the Emerson dining hall.

9:38 - Somehow, the Lizard Lounge team still isn't here. Ryk: “What, is Jeff Robinson driving them?”

9:39 - You know, I bet when Ryk was younger he was a lot like the Colonel.

9:45 - And it's the break! Decent open mike; there were some clunkers but enough knock-you-dead stuff to make up for it. Of course, a lot of the heavy hitters were absent thanks to the grand bru-ha-ha coming up. Back in a bit.

10:05 - We’re back! Somehow I got roped into being the door guy during the break. The thing about being the door guy, is people always come in during the poems you're trying to listen to, and never during the poems that make you wish your laptop had snood on it.

10:06 - Ryk jokingly calls Worcester, "Team Awkward." Providence doesn't realize it's a joke and frantically huddles to come up with a team name, emerging with "The Closet Misogynists." Just for the record, the teams on hand tonight: Worcester (Team Awkward), Providence (Closet Misogynists), New Hampshire (Team Who?), Lizard Lounge (Team Badass), and the home squad, Team Cantab (Team Scrawny).

10:07 - A ton of people just chanted “No Sex with Hippos!" I'm not entirely sure why.

10:08 - The judges: Richard Cambridge, James McCoy and three people I don't know. This should be interesting.

10:10 - Rochelle Frasier sacrifices. I've never heard of her but she's good, doing a well-written love poem. Not knock your socks off, but solid. Kind of the perfect sacrifice. Nets a 25.3, pretty par for the course for a sacrifice.

10:13 - I can't get over how charged this room is. The crowd is absolutely pumped. Cantab leads off and sends J*me to the stage, to an absolute explosion of applause. J*me drops the Pitbull poem, and utterly obliterates it. Haven’t seen J*me bring it that hard in a WHILE. James McCoy gives it a 7.4, and the booing is lusty, but it's the drop score anyway. Final: 27.1.

10:17 - Wocester sends up Gary Hoare. He's on page, but it doesn't matter, because he does the poem about eating out an ice cream cone. You know, the one where it seems like it's a poem about ice cream, but you quickly realize that it's really about frozen yogurt? Crowd eats it up and so do the judges - Score: 26.7

10:23 - In my lovely role as doorman I just greeted a reporter from the Boston Metro, here to take pictures... with her tiny, hand held digital camera. I'd laugh if I hadn't done the exact same goddamn thing a hundred times. She's not going to get any pictures to come out with that thing, but I let her in and point her in the direction of Simone anyway.

10:24 - Didn't catch Providence guy's name, and only heard half his poem thanks to Metro woman, but gets tremendous applause and a 26.7. It's clear now that McCoy is playing the East German Judge - hasn't broken an 8 all night.

10:26 - Manchester sends someone named Summer. She gives a great storytelling poem, starts funny, gets poignant, ends where it began. She even seems comfortable onstage. If only she didn't pause like Captain Kirk between every line. Gets a 26.4.

10:30 - The Lizard Lounge calls 1two5 to the stage. In homage, this post will now be in all caps: THE APPLAUSE IS DEAFENING. I'VE NEVER HEARD THIS PLACE SO LOUD! THE POEM IS THE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PIECE. THE CROWD LOVES EVERY SECOND.

10:33 - Oh god. Ryk is in a wife beater.

10:34 - 1two5 gets a 27.7, topping J*me. The guy is a force of nature. For those of you keeping score at home, that round ranked out as Lizard, then Cantab, then Worcester, then Providence, then New Hampshire. Which is basically how the oddsmakers would have had them lined up to begin with, I imagine.

10:34 - Iyoka comes up next. Even though I know it's a disadvantage, it feels like a killer blow for the Lounge, riding on their momentum. Iyoka's on page, and delivers your basic Iraq poem. She scores a surprisingly low 26.3 which then gets time penalized to a 25.8 I’m the only one who yells Fuck New York. What happened to this tradition?

10:39 - Cantab brings out the first group piece of the night - It's Brian and Shira, which prompts J*me to shout, "Oh my god, I want to be the cream filling!” Probably there should be a rule about that kind of thing, but screw it, it's funny. The poem is Brian's Steven Radio. It doesn’t benefit that much from being grouped up, but Shira's style meshes with his so well she sounds like she wrote the damn thing herself. The East German Judge breaks an 8, and they score a 27.3 - probably got a bit of a home team bonus there. Then again, I'm always more critical of the poems I know well.

10:43 - Trevor Byrne-Smith comes up for Worcester and we have our second microphone malfunction of the night. Once that's sorted he drops a science poem and nails it for a 26.6.

10:51 - Jared Paul gets up for Providence. He's definitely their heavy hitter, and he lays down an absolutely killer poem, with more metaphors per minute (mpm) than anyone else has managed tonight... and gets a 25. Not a typo. A twenty-five. Slam poetry, ladies and gentlemen!

10:51 - J*me tells the judges to "fuck off" and "go read a fucking book." I think he might have disagreed with the Jared Paul score a little.

10:52 - New Hampshire sends up "Alphonso Rigatoni." Gonna go way out on a limb here and say that's not his real name. Anyway, he does a poem I've heard a few times before, but I've never seen it go this well. The crowd is into it, and he milks them perfectly, getting a huge cheer on what should be an innocuous line about Wal-Mart. Anyway, he pulls out a 27.9, which gives them second place for the round behind Cantab.

10:56 - Simone closes out the Cantab's offering with the Imagine You Old poem. By now, we've all heard this poem a gajillion times, but my god is it good. "I am your 1 watt lover. When you call me, call me by all the faces you forgot and I will answer. I will answer to every one." The judges give her a 27.7.

11:01 - New Hampshire sends up "Matty T," who used to call himself "Unseen the Poet" even though everyone could see him. He's improved since the last time I saw him, and gets a 26.4.

11:04 - The Lizard sends up Adam Stone. He's on page doing something new, which is fine with me. It's about a photographer in Darfur, and I find myself loving it even though it's a Darfur poem. Man, this Lizard team is ungodly. It doesn't get a lot of applause though, weirdly, considering the audience has been into everything tonight. Still gets a decent 27.5, but then gets time penalized to a 27.0. The Artie Moffa rule strikes again.

11:08 - Worcester brings up a group piece starring Gary, Trevor and a girl I don’t know. The piece is a pretty spot on indictment of the genre of slam poems that talk about how cliched slam is. So it's a slam poem about slam poems about slam poems. It's on page, and clearly needs more practice, but it’ll probably score well on concept alone. And so it does: 27.7

11:13 - Eric Hagan closes it our for Providence. He does the only poem he's been doing lately, although he changes the second line to, "I KNEW I was going to get a poem out of this," which draws an appreciative laugh from the audience. Just goes to show you the kind of crowd we've got. It's another in a long line of "best I've seen it" performances tonight, and the crowd goes BONKERS. Which means the last poet of the night also gets the high score - 28.4

11:17 - Final Results:
5th - 80.1 Providence
4th - 80.5 Lizard Lounge
3rd - 80.7 New Hampshire
2nd - 81.0 Worcester
1st - 82.1 Cantab

Cantab finally wins in their own building! Wow, that end result was NOT how the odds makers would have drawn it up, particularly not with Lizard Lounge in 4th, although without the time penalties they'd be 2nd. All and all a heck of a show. Did I manage to do this without pissing anyone off? Probably not. Am I posting it anyway? Yeah, why not.


Artie_Moffa said...

To my knowlege, Jeff Buckley never apologized to J*me, but that's not to say it didn't happen at some point. J*me would have been, what, 18? Something like that.

Michael's poem about World of Warcraft was fantastic.

The woman in the Worcester piece was Erin Jackson, I think.

This whole "without time penalties, they'd be 2nd" mentality seems, to me, a little dishonest. The time penalty is part of the score. Why pretend that if the poet had simply stopped mid-stanza at 3:09 that the judges would have scored the poem the same way?

Kevin Spak said...

Well, time penalties are definitely part of the game - the score with time penalties is the real score. But as an observer, I like to pay attention to these things, the same way I want to know how many hits a pitcher gave up, even if he pitched a shutout. If you're trying to figure out how good the Lizard Lounge team is, isn't it relevant that they would have come out looking better had they shaved a combined total of around 15 seconds off?

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