Sweet (Meat) Victory

In one of those events that seemed all the more surreal for being sparsely attended, Zack "Kid" Carlson pitted his competitive eating skills last Sunday night against Harriet, a charming pot-bellied pig from Federal Way. The occasion was the closing-night gala of ULTRA: The High Noon of Consumer Culture, the Little Theatre's recent film series about onsumerism, and the goal was to be the first creature to eat 10 patties (for Carlson, Whoppers with and without cheese, and for Harriet, mashed-up alfalfa patties, the staple of her non-competitive diet).

Carlson, a programmer at the Grand Illusion, seemed confident, giving pre-contest interviews in a charged atmosphere that included an impromptu bookie and honky-tonk music on the piano. Harriet, on the other hand, seemed nervous, pacing and making faint noises of distress. But, according to her owners, she was game, and quite hungry. She was salivating like crazy, and whipping her skinny tail back and forth over her rump.

Carlson reappeared in a red-white-and-blue singlet, and the competition began. He quickly disposed of the buns (since Harriet didn't have to eat any), and after trying a few different eating positions, finally seemed to relax on his feet. Harriet, meanwhile, went the slow and steady route, never moving her mouth very far from the plate. She ate with surprising delicacy, no longer fazed by the crowd or the noise, focused on the plates that were being regularly shoved under her nose.

Harriet had the technique down, but what she did not have was the drive to win. While eating her eighth helping, she slowed down and then simply stopped and could not be induced to keep going. Carlson, on the other hand, looked like he was going to throw up, but continued to shove burgers into his mouth. After some brief drama about a burger found in the trash (which turned out to be a frame-up), Carlson was declared victor and, ever the gracious winner, gave Harriet a kiss on the snout. Harriet, clearly over it all, charged for the door, and we followed, taking our slightly nauseated selves into the dark night.

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On an entirely different note, video artist Mark O'Connell has put together two new DVDs of his work. His creepy, dirty, complicated videos are the perfect antidote to the sticky sweetness of Christmas, and the DVDs are available to rent at Scarecrow or can be purchased at his website (www.markoconnell.org).

emily@thestranger.com

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