Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Whodunit? Don't Ask Me

No sign is complete without Eddie's raccoon stick (look to the left)
The year is 1922.  At the height of prohibition in Chicago, a mob war was brewing between the South Side Gangsters and the Northern Mob Outfit.  The two factions are planning to meet up at The Grand Gatsby Speakeasy to discuss the future of underground casinos...but not everyone may make it out alive. So don't be a pikah.  Stay outta the clink, get all dolled up, and come out for a night that's sure to be the cat's meow.

And so began the great murder mystery dinner party that S had gifted to me at least five years ago.  After years in the making, my house transformed into a speakeasy owned by Hal Sapone aka Eddie, called The Grand Gatsby (no, not The Great Gatsby.  That's Fitzgerald's speakeasy).

What speakeasy is complete without a little decoration?











The premise of the night was that everyone would be assigned a character, everyone would received a name tag, some notepaper for crime solving, and instructions and hints for the night to interact with each other.  Each course of food (cocktails and apps, main course, and dessert) came with not only these clues but also games.  These games were to be graded, and so I found myself grading.  Even at parties, I'm grading.
Everything everyone needs to solve a mystery. 

Main course

Dessert

Grading

"Fruit"

More grading

Gatsby and casino
Quizzing
The house filled with chatter and laughing and shrieks (and smoke -- we aired that out quick) and then the lights flickered and someone wound up dead.  Then we all figured out which way was north and had to diagram the murder scene.  Actually, this did not happen.  At first, I didn't even know why everyone kept asking which way was north because I was so busy grading and fanning out the smoke, that I was behind in my game play, which is also why whenever anyone said any clues to me, I responded with an "Okay!" and then went back to them ten minutes later with the actual response I was supposed to give.  The papers for the accusations had a spot to diagram the crime scene, but no one really did that.  Everyone did guess, though, and then we had to reveal whatever our final round clues stated.

Turns out, I knew nothing.  There were some fun twists.  I found out the next day that there was some more murdering that was supposed to happen but someone doesn't read instructions (meaning Eddie) so the final murdery stuff didn't happen.  That was fine.  We'd had enough mystery for one night. Who won?  S and S! Who lost? Everyone else. 

Revelations from a right-hand man

Clearly innocent faces

Crime boss and some other guy's dame

The singer and the baseball player/jazz musician who are also great cooks

Our grandmother is so proud.

Mess with them

Again, makin our family proud

Some final findings
The next day, my house looked like a horde of strippers had rolled around in it.  Glitter, spangles, fringe, and sequins  were everywhere.  I kept up the signs until I'd scooped up the last of the sparkly stuff and then returned to modern-day everyday living.  Except for the sign outside on the house.  That stayed up for at least a week.  I'd cut out the letters freehand and was dang proud; plus, a speakeasy ain't such a bad idea.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Some Free Stuff From The Past Few Months

It's been slim pickins.  Hoping to boost the free stuff movement once more and soon.

Almost all my bday freebies, most of which I didn't get a chance to use.

And now I drink chocolate milk
Travel sized

Friday, November 7, 2014

Train At Radio City


Drunk Girl and Drunk Mom were the unexpected bonus of the evening when Eddie took me to see Train at Radio City Music Hall.  We settled into center stage seats towards the back of the hall and noticed that it was pretty empty during the opening act.  The duo, Alex & Sierra, folk-rocked out and then folked-out Britney Spears's "Toxic," which was amusing and inspiring.  The theater filled up as they played, and then the rest of the row arrived to Eddie's left.  Enter Drunk Girl.  She clutched a drink in each hand.  Behind her, Drunk Mom followed.  At first, I thought one drink was for the mom.  Then I saw that Drunk Mom had a drink of her own, but only one.  When Alex & Sierra finished their set, Dunk Girl and Drunk Mom disappeared and came back before Train came to the stage with more drinks.  Twice.

When the lights went down and the stage came up, Drunk Girl jumped up and hair danced.  What's a hair dance?  Well, it's when you dance with your head bobbing forward and to the sides because your neck is too drunk to hold your head up, and so your hair falls all over, making it seem that you do not have a face.  Along with the hair dance, she also had half a chicken dance going, and Eddie and I feared that his face might suffer with an elbow jab or two before the end of the night.  When the more well-known songs came about, Drunk Girl tried pulling Drunk Mom to her feet to hair dance and half a chicken dance along with her, but Drunk Mom kept saying, I can't stand.  Class act!


So if that was the bonus, you might imagine what the show was like.  It was like, well, hmm.  Words cannot describe the awesomeness of this show.  In a small venue like Radio City, it's as if the band sings to each individual, one word, one note for each person there.  Then to make it even better, Pat Monahan takes selfies one-handedly with other people's phones while running around in the audience and walking on chairs (security must love him), and then he signed shirts and threw them.  They don't need to do those things.  They do because it's enjoyable for the audience, but without them, the show is still all kinds of Uh. May. ZING.
What it looked like through the camera phone.

Lots of colors and music and magic and fun
And this is what they sounded like.  You may be familiar with this song.
 
They played some older stuff.  Love it.

Side note: I've been catching up on Patcast, which is the podcast by Pat Monahan.  I am really behind because I just figured out how to play podcasts through my car, and now that's all I listen to.  I've been following Train on Instagram, and I've always wanted to listen to the Patcast after I see photos of them.  Now I listen as I'm driving and I'm always wishing I were listening while doing nothing because they are so inspiring and funny that I want to write shit down and steal the words and make poetry, but I'm always driving and smiling and I must look like a maniac because whenever someone says something brilliant, I start to repeat it over and over so I'll remember it, but I never remember it because I get distracted by the rest of the podcast.  Nobody knows the trouble I've seen; nobody knows my sorrow--brought to you by English Professor Problems.

So okay, I've given you the bonus and the make it even better moments, but here's the best moment of the night.  Pat Monahan decides, hey, I'm gonna sing with no mic.  So he holds the mic down by his waist, takes a huge singer-sized breath, and starts to belt out the words: When it rains it pours and opens doors... and he sways side to side and his neck and head look like they're about to come off, not because he's doing the drunk hair dance like Drunk Girl next to us but because he's using every lick of energy to make the sound hit us in the back row.  And it did. And it was every bit of heaven on earth as cosmically possible.

Eddie was like, The mic is still picking up some of the sound.

I was like, Ruin this for me and I will cut you.

Eddie was like, No, no, it's great.

And he actually meant that because he does like Train, though it's quite possible we both like Gavin DeGraw a little more than Train by default since he's the act Eddie has seen in concert the most, and we were both a little bit let down that he was not on the bill. But back to Train and their being great--Eddie has some songs downloaded on his iPod, some of which he could have simply downloaded from me instead of buying them from iTunes but someone did not think to ask someone else if someone else already owned the songs. Hey, support the cause, right?  "Soul Sister" is actually kind of like our song.  I know, it's everyone's song, but really, it's ours.  Like, have you ever liked a song so much that you just can't listen to it sometimes?  That's that song.  Also, that Marry Me song is one we like, too, or actually, liked until I pointed out how it seems a bit stalkerish--I mean, he's singing to this girl to marry him but then asks, Will I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe?  That, to me, indicates that he's been staring at this girl forever and wants to marry her but he hasn't even said a word to her.  I have written a poem influenced by this song, but the song itself is not recognized in the poem because that's what poets do.  We steal.

Back to the concert.  There's Pat Monahan, shout-singing "When I Look To The Sky," and then the band kicks in louder and he uses the mic before he passes out and then well I. Just. Can't.  It's too good to be described.

To wrap it all up, they used "Dream On" as their bow.  Now I've heard lots of covers of "Dream On," and the only one that actually sounds like a good song is the version Train does.



A pretty spectacular birthday present.  Thanks, love.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

SoHo SoFun!

I like the city, my brother is a history teacher, and Eddie enjoys a quick walk over a long walk, so we all had a good time completing the StrayBoots scavenger hunt in Soho.  While we had a pretty easy time finding almost all the things we had to, we had a very difficult time finding a pretzel vendor.  We met up near the blue building, and we found what we needed to find next, but then, we wanted a pretzel and all that was there was an empty cart.  Are we supposed to get one ourselves? we asked aloud.  A woman standing nearby agreed, Yeah I know!  So instead of moving on, we stood there for a while.  No one showed up.  We continued with the search, and lucky enough it brought us right back to the pretzel cart where the vendor finally appeared and we were able to get a snack.  For joy!

We found a lot of really cool things.  My brother, who should be a city tour guide, found somethings he didn't already know about, but mostly, Eddie and I found that we didn't really need StrayBoots or their extra fun facts because as soon as we arrived at a destination, my brother was all, Yes sure back in 1883 there were applecarts and Sirus O'Neal was the first man to discover iron and blah dee blah dee blahdee.  Basically, Mr. History knows his shit, and I was banned from looking things up on the Google "just to doublecheck" that he was right.


Cat? Ferret? Lizard?

This made me happy.

Guess who took a picture of this.

Old Timey Ice Cream
The only downer was finding one address, typing it in, and getting the screen that said we were wrong. Bummer.  I tried again.  Wrong.  Bummer.  Then it told me that the correct answer was the exact answer I'd typed in.  I immediately declared that I would write a very strong letter to StrayBoots.  I actually did write an email a few days later, and they wrote me back to say thanks and they'd check into it.  Hey! Where's my free stuff?  Why else write a very strong letter?  It's the only reason to write a very strong letter.  My very strong letter was not in need of a thanks, but in need of a here's a free t-shirt. (I do not want a free t-shirt.  The t-shirt is a symbol for any cool free thing except for an actual t-shirt).

My favorite part was the end because nothing happens in the end.  When you go on a scavenger hunt, you build a lot of momentum and anticipation.  However, unlike games or mazes, when you're done, you're done.  The app gives you a few restaurant suggestions nearby, but really, the whole experience is very anti-climactic.  You all just kind of look at each other and go, okay well that's it now.  As we walked back to the subway (Read: as my brother led us back to the subway) and as the sun got to its highest and we started to realize, hey it's really hot out (Read: I was sweating profusely), we figured out ways to be less anti-climactic and decided that at the end, if you earn a certain amount of points, you should get a voucher to use at one of the restaurants nearby or for one of the places you found along the way.  StrayBoots, this means you.  Get on that.  Thanks.
Me on the train platform's waiting room





 So we learned a bit, had a whole lot of fun, and then got nothing tangible in the end, but the experience was priceless, and I can't wait for the next one.

Oh, did I mention we went for my birthday?