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June 20, 2005 // UPDATED 1:55 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

"The Film Fanatic Challenge"

Here's a Knowledge Bowl for those who spent way too much (or maybe just enough) of their adolescence watching American Movie Classics. After all, you knew that some day your suspicions would prove true - that indeed, there is educational value to TV and it can even be profitable sometimes.

In this forum modeled after the popular TV game show from the Independent Film Channel, you'll show off your expansive knowledge about titles, casts, synopses and other details about production.

Pitting you against four other players at once, you'll compete for the chance to win an Apple iPod Mini. The grand prize at the end of the challenge is an IFC Home Theater System and a trip for two to the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

The contest is open to anyone 21 years old and older.

• Th-Sa June 23-25; Th 6-9 p.m., F-Sa 9 p.m.-midnight. Grumpy's Bar and Grill, 1111 Washington Ave. Free. 340-9738, www.ifctv.com.

Paul Auster's desk

It's hard to say how a conversation with author Paul Auster might end up, given that his poems, novels and screenplays, are absurd, unconventional, meandering and ironic, among other things. Auster likes to play with his readers, in the same spirit that made me wish I had a twin when I was little (or a partner in crime, to help me play tricks on people).

Apparently Auster never got over that yearning (or something like it) because he invents equally playful and disorienting characters and situations with "twins" - either with live characters or semantically in stories that spin delicately around collisions and bizarre encounters.

In this reading and discussion with Auster, I'd like to find out what kind of environment and habits he has to feed his productivity. Like, what does his desk look like? Is it a mess? Tidy? Is there a lot of color or not?

He must sit in a swivel chair to go from contemplating solitude one moment, then twisting to ghost busters and Timbuktu the next. The author of 11 novels, three screenplays and other nonfiction works must have some pretty intense work habits.

Somehow Auster manages not only to write a lot but he also treats his subjects in a meaningful way. Some of his work is autobiographical while other pieces are totally imaginary (which begs the question, which is which?).

After Auster finishes this reading, "Rain Taxi" Editor Eric Lorberer will talk about the development and history of Auster's poetry. The connection between "Rain Taxi" and Auster is that "Rain Taxi" published Auster's "A Little Anthology of Surrealist Poems" in 2002.

• Th June 23, 7 p.m. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave. Free. 375-7600, www.walkart.org or www.raintaxi.com.

Anna Pratt can be reached at annapratt@artlover.com.