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Murder Mystery: Behind the Scenes

Happy Friday everyone! On Wednesday, you may have read the Murder Mystery Party recap from the perspective of the character Mrs. Nellie Ross, but I’m sure you are wondering how this whole thing works! So here is my official review on this particular party set & tips for how I would put on this type of event if I were to host ūüôā

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RSVP & Background Info

One of the most crucial aspects of putting on this type of party (especially if there will be more than 10 ppl) is the prep work. ¬†This includes having people rsvp only if they know that they can absolutely make it, and once you have a guest list, assign roles accordingly. ¬†That includes assigning CRUCIAL roles (usually 8-10 ppl) to those that will show up early/on time and in general, roles that sort of fit their personality (as host you are privvy to that). ¬†Then give people PLENTY of time to get a costume/bring food (potluck style works best), so (for costumes especially) I’d say at least a couple weeks. ¬†AND be sure include the background of the party’s setting when you send out the character background. I only knew that it would be set in the 1920s, mobsters would be there and someone would get murdered. While I was given a very brief character background, I was confused why my character as a politician in support of the prohibition would be at such an event. I didn’t even know what the event was for or where this event was supposed to take place. ¬†Also, if I were to buy something like this in the future, I might give more suggestion for backstory to those that are not comfortable making things up (my character is based on a real person, so I actually did lots of research :), see next section)

While I did have to RSVP early (about a month early), I wasn’t given my background info until 5 days before the party, so I really didn’t have much time to shop. Fortunately I had a dress & accessories that worked perfectly for my person ūüôā BUT initially I forgot I had that dress and was in a state of panic trying to find something suitable that I didn’t want to spend much $$ on. ¬†Also, I was a bit confused since we were emailed our background info and told to contact people ahead of time. ¬†But we were not given a full roster of names/email contacts, so nobody could do that. And after I emailed the host about it, we were all told the characters wouldn’t be revealed until the night of the party. I was confused. Plus it turns out a couple of the optional players I was supposed to contact were not actually fulfilled by anyone, so I had less people to contact before/during the different rounds of play (more on that later). I’m assuming they had to purchase an expansion pack and that is something bound to happen, so there’s nothing anyone can really do about that…

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The Character, The Costume & The Makeup

Since I’m a very curious person, I typed my character’s name into Google and found that my character (with a slight name change) was based on a REAL HISTORICAL person! ¬†I highly encourage you google more about her, but here is a quick summary and my thoughts on why I think she is inspirational:

M2M_Murder_Mystery1Nellie Tayloe Ross was born in 1876 and grew up on a plantation in Missouri along the Mississippi River. She was the first girl and 6th child of her parents James & Elizabeth Tayloe, but certainly not the last.  Her family seemed to be no stranger to tragedy, for 2 of her older siblings had passed away during their time in Missouri, and after their plantation burned down (and was necessary to leave to live near family in Kansas), she lost her younger sister a year later. She was only 4 or 5, but they apparently were very close.  Then, during her high school years, her mother passed from typho-malaria, so once she graduated high school, she worked as piano teacher to help support her dad and younger siblings.  A few years later she pursued the equivalent of a teaching credential to teach kindergarden (and my personal opinion is that she might have wanted that connection to her late young sister whom was that age when she passed). On a trip to Tennessee, she met her would-be husband William Bradford Ross, lawyer in training and corresponded via letters until they married in the early 1900s.

Their first children were twin boys, George and Jason. ¬†A couple years later they had another boy named Alfred, who died of a tragic buggy accident at the age of 10 months. ¬†It wasn’t for another 6 years that they had their 4th and final son William Jr. During her motherhood time, she was very dedicated to her family and was supportive of her husband’s political efforts. In 1922, he was elected governor of Wyoming, but a couple years later passed away from complications during an appendectomy (appendicitis surgery). ¬†The Democratic party asked if she would take over his position as governor, she didn’t reply, but she was nominated and won the special election anyway. It is said between the need to keep busy during early widowhood and the desire to continue supporting her husband’s political issues (child & women worker rights, supporting farmers & tax cuts….)that she accepted the position. She became the first woman to ever be a governor of a state in the US. Mrs. Nellie Ross is still the only woman governor that Wyoming has ever had. *1,2¬†

M2M_murdermystery_BTS2I was so blown away and inspired by her story. For someone to lose so many loved ones, forced to ‘grow up’ early to help support her family and still managed to make lemonade out of life. ¬†From what I read, she did not aspire to be a politician, but accepted the position gracefully and knew that people would be looking for ANY excuse to see a woman put out of power. She was a composed and seemed a fair woman and I have a new found respect for this woman, whom I had never heard of until this party. Not many characters are based on real people, but I memorized this information (and wrote it from memory), since I was so stoked about becoming this character through this backstory. Plus, she is considered southern from the region she grew up, so I adopted a sweet southern accent. People got confused though since I was the governor of Wyoming, but people can grow up in other parts of the country, hello! Since my dress suggestions were conservative 1920s, I donned a long black dress (V neck I know, but best I could do!), with a bolero jacket and long black gloves. AND I was determined to do finger waves ūüôā

The Event

¬†M2M_Murder_Mystery2Overall, I think having one large room worked well since there were places to sit, but still lots of places to stand and congregate. Once everyone arrived (2 crucial characters were VERY late), we were given our ROUND 1 info cards that included things to say/ask and people to talk to. ¬†Some people didn’t remember who there character was and were wary of making things up, but most people really got into it (myself included, and I was the only one who pulled of an accent for the majority of the night ūüôā ). In the middle, we had an unscramble game (was fun) and then we were given our ROUND 2 cards that had more things to do/say as well as included our ‘alibi’ for the murder. ¬†I also got this cute little notebook from Target (came in a 2 pack for 75 cents) to take notes during the party, including the ‘scandalous’ rumors overheard. I added the glitter ribbon for a feminine touch. People thought I was suspicious while writing things down in the book, but in hindsight, I was actually fulfulling my character’s role by ‘noting’ all the illegal activity to send to the ‘federal authorities’ I apparently had a direct connection to as a politician (the fake backstory).

IMG_3847¬†We all wore nametags as a way to find the other characters we were supposed to converse with, however most females wore dressy material that resisted the adhesive….we found that skin worked better. Unfortunately my arms were covered and I opted not to put it on my forehead or on my chest, so I just had to deal with the falling off tag…Ok onto our ‘scripts: to the left is an example of what each character was given: printouts from Rounds 1, 2, & 3 as well as an ‘evidence’ sheet showing finger prints extracted from the murder weapon (and character names associated) as well as an info sheet for those to try to figure out the murderer.

By the time the ‘investigation’ rolled around (passing out those sheets), everyone was pretty much tired. And then we all had to read this script to say why we didn’t do it. My character had the option of being murdered at the end for saying how appalled I was at the whole event and having some mob person shoot me in the back. That didn’t happen, but it was a bit drawn out having all the characters do that. Plus the sentences were very silly and included phrases like “bees knees” etc…Then when the final person had to go up, they read their lines and we found out that they did it. But the weird part is, they didn’t actually find out till the final round. ¬†I did more research after this game and found that some games do this, but others dont. ¬†Not sure why a character wouldn’t find out till the end, but none of us designed the game…

Overall

I had the MOST fun playing a character and interacting with everyone else playing a different character. ¬†Plus everyone dressed the part, so it worked out well in that respect! ¬†I think for future events (I didn’t host, but this is what I would do having learned from this experience), plan early (also see first section) and investigate other party boxes as well. Some games I read about focus more on the actual people playing characters, buying and trading secrets, trying to accomplish their own agenda…rather than actually try to solve a murder. ¬†Yes people do die in those games, but the goal is more for role playing than murder solving. ¬†However, if the goal were to be to solve a murder, having more scripted clues might help since there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of information given from each character when you interacted with them. Even if the host had to go in and try to ‘help it along’. ¬†But overall, I think that as long as everyone is having fun it doesnt really matter if the murder gets solved or not. Fun experience for sure!

Have you ever attended a murder mystery party? Would you go if invited?

Also see the recap from my character’s perspective by clicking here!

Sources for Nellie Tayloe Ross:

  1. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nellie_Tayloe_Ross
  2. Short biography: http://www.madeinwyoming.net/profiles/extras/NellieTayloeRossbiography.pdf

1920s Murder Mystery Party

This last weekend I was invited to attend the Atlantic City Conference, but was appalled to find an exuberance of illegal activity (such as bootleg) as well as the fact that one of them was actually murdered during the event! As a government official (I am the first lady governor of Wyoming you know), I made sure to write up my findings to send in an official report to the federal authorities. This is the 1920s and we are at the height of prohibition after all…

But before I get to the contraband activity at hand, I feel it is my duty to describe in detail my experience at the event from start to finish. I was invited to the conference by Bessie O’Day (I ran into her while on political business in Atlantic City) and decided to attend since I didn’t have plans that night. ¬†She said the purpose of the conference was to form something called “The Commission” in order to regulate the mob organizations from Atlantic City, New York and Chicago. ¬†I am in support of cracking down on illegal activity, but little did I know, mobsters from the biggest families would arrive and create tension you could cut with a spoon.¬†

Once I arrived, I was annoyed to find my name spelled incorrectly, “Nellie Taylor Rose”, but I guess that’s what happens when I attend a conference at the last minute with mobsters running rampant…. Anyway, I learned that the host of this ‘conference’ was Nuggy Jones, apparenlty a ruthless leader of the Atlantic City Mob (and a former sherriff). Rumor had it, he was under federal investigation for tax evasion…(for shame)

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Some of the people I had the pleasure to meet included: Chanel Cocoa, a poor orphan girl who learned to sew by hand and who later made it to the Paris runways with her fashions; Fay Stingray, a novelist who exposed the illegal actions of one of the mob families; and Mable Sapone, a silent film actress struggling to continue her Hollywood career since her husband Hal does not support her independence. ¬†There were also some very, um, handsome ladies in attendance that night: L: Jackie “The Legs” Harris (my nickname for her was Jackie the hairy legs, shhh). Top R: Emma Solitare & boyfriend Johnny “the Fox” Torrion.

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Once I finished making my rounds of conversation, it became quite clear there were actual crime bosses at the event, and to make matters worse, rival crime bosses at that.¬†As a newly appointed polititian, it is my duty to continue fighting for the issues my late husband (and former governer)¬†so believed in, such as the avid support for the prohibition movement. With the present characters in attendance, I knew that I had to ‘lay low’ with my political views if I wanted to ‘keep my nose clean’ if you know what I mean. Furthermore, there were copious amounts of alcohol at the event! I was ready to leave the event right then and there, but unfortunately that’s when Johnny Torrion got ‘whacked’.

A local Atlantic City cop was at the event, so after the body was discovered in the women’s bathroom, we were all on ‘lockdown’ and forced to remain in the room. I was quite suspicious of everyone at the event since, well nearly everyone was in the mob or associated with it somehow! One suspicious event I noted was the very public break up of Emma and Johnny only minutes before his murder. She was leaving him for Nuggy Jones since he promised to treat her better and allow her more freedom as a woman. This was a common thread of opinion amongst the women in attendance I did note (within the mob or otherwise). ¬†It was later revealed (or rumored) that Johnny had syphilis, some speculated Emma was the vector between Nuggy and Johnny….so scandalous!

There were others in attendance that also had ‘beef’ (oh lord I am speaking like them now) with Johnny since he had apparently ‘whacked’ various family members from the party, his faction would go to another in case of his death, his mistreatment of women….he was not a well liked individual. ¬†All of these people that had a grievance with him, I believe had some sort of motive, but it was hard to pinpoint down one person entirely in my point of view. ¬†Each of us had to give testimony about our whereabouts and alibis toward the end of the event. ¬†For the authorities currently reading this, please make sure to read the copy of the full list of attendees, since all of them (with exception of myself of course) partook in the consumption of alcohol. ¬†It is not important for me to reveal the murderer, since those are now official records that can be obtained from the local authorities in Atlantic City.

-Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross

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A recap from the perspective of myself (pros/cons) of this type of party will be posted Friday.

Singles Night at Whole Foods

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Last night, I went to a Singles Night hosted by Whole Foods Market, yes WHOLE FOODS! I was a bit confused about the whole grocery store thing when my gal pal invited me to come with her…but after perusing the web, I read MANY articles about people meeting in grocery stores! Seriously, I’ve never been picked up at a grocery store, probably because I do early morning shopping during the weekdays (when all the old people shop) rather than evening weekend shopping when, apparently, that kind of stuff normally happens. Who knew?!?!? Anyway, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to spend my $6 for food to go and see what ‘the scene’ is at Whole Foods. Plus by going with a friend, we could easily bail if it turned out to be mostly people twice our age and proceeds went to Community Partnership for Youth, so no matter what, my money went to a good cause!

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In the beginning:

So we showed up 10 minutes early and waited in a ‘red carpet line’ for about 20 minutes until the last of the customers cleared out of the store. ¬†The first table at the entrance was giving out wine glasses for the wine testers, I thought it was a place to give our money…Nope, had to go inside to another line at the cash register to pay. ¬†A bit confusing. So finally at 9:30, I got my purple bracelet indicating I would be a ‘foodie’ and checked out all the little food booths. It was nice that they had a Valentine’s theme with the balloons, red color, and desserts all around, though it would have been more ‘romantic’ if they had dimmed the lights a little or lit candles! Yes candles would have been awesome! Back to the food. My FAVORITE food they served were bacon wrapped candied dates filled with goat cheese. OMG AMAZING! I spoke with the lady serving us, apparently she made them, so now that I know what’s inside, I can figure out how to make them in the future! ¬†Oh and I chatted up another employee who made the almond toffee. ¬†He seemed surprised that I knew how to make toffee and we talked about the process and what/how things go wrong. ¬†It is a finicky process, but SO good when it comes out right!

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Funny Story #1: The Chocolate Fountain

IMG_3737When we were first making the ’rounds’ I spotted the chocolate fountain and wanted to have some chocolate strawberries! So I skewered 2 strawberries, stuck them into the fountain, and presto! Chocolate covered strawberries! I then proceeded to eat them, not thinking about the dripping chocolate, when all of a sudden, as I was trying to eat the first strawberry, the second one ‘rolled’ all of its chocolate onto the table and floor. Mid bite, I was like “Oh no! Chocolate on the floor!” and then the guy in front of me turned around to see my stunned face and handed me a napkin. ¬†Why they had napkins on the far side of the table rather than in the middle, I have no idea. Maybe you are supposed to meet people by making a mess like I did? I thanked him, but he was with someone, so I turned to my friend to have a laugh. Then the second time I went to the fountain, I dropped my strawberry in the fountain! I really thought about fishing it out, but didn’t want to make a scene, so I left it where it was. And I noticed that ALOT more people had drizzled chocolate everywhere by that time. ¬†I guess I was just the first to start the trend!

Logistics and Age Range

Around 9:45pm, the place got a bit more ‘snug’ since more people showed up, but unfortunately for me I’d say 60-70% were women and the average age of attendees was somewhere 35-40. Also, there weren’t really any large areas to congregate, it was like a maze with all their booths/grocery store displays so the verdict is still out on whether the small space is conducive to ‘meeting people’ or more difficult if someone you want to talk to is completely blocked from your path. ¬†We did manage to investigate the whole store; mainly food/wine tables, but they did have an olive oil based brand of face cream, body cream and chapstick giving out samples to try as well as an *ahem* intimate table for other types of samples. ¬†They did have a raffle for a ‘mystery box’ at that table, which neither my friend nor I entered since it was probably a combo of things on that table.

Funny Story #2:¬†What’s in the bag?¬†

Anyway, during this time, I saw one of the people who got a ‘grab bag’ (had to be one of the first 25 in the door) start taking things out and looking at them with someone else. ¬†Not sure if I interrupted a ‘moment’, but I went up to the older gentlemen and lady friend and asked if I could see what was inside and take a picture for my blog. ¬†The woman said that, it was a bit disappointing, but both people encouraged me to go ahead if I wanted. So, since there weren’t any free tables or anything to set contents on, I literally got on my knees on the floor, took everything out of the bag to stage a picture. ¬†Some of the items they hadn’t pulled out yet, so it was interesting to speculate as to why all of these products were in the bag. ¬†Quite frankly, I had expected more from Whole Foods. ¬†If you look at the picture below, you will see lots of paper and plastic goods: plastic frisbee, plastic cup, paper as ’tissue paper’, Brain Tonic (energy drink? with lots of sugar), Nut Butter packets (with algae?), bottle opener, Whole Foods Valentie’s Day flier & gift guide, and as far as I could tell, the ‘winner’ items were the 99 cent reusable bag and the peanut butter bar. ¬†I think it would have been better had they put in fresh organic fruit, maybe a rose or some little chocolates. But that’s just me.

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Oh and the woman totally got a kick out of me for doing this. I thanked them for allowing me to take a picture for my blog and apologized for any inconvenience. ¬†The lady just laughed and said, “I came here to be entertained, and so far you are very entertaining!” (in a good way). ¬†Later my friend said she thought some guy was looking at me and going to come up to talk to me right before my blog shenanigan…and then he and his buddies were most definitely watching my whole ‘floor performance’. ¬†Oh well, I definitely walk to the beat of my own drum!

The Lull and my Silliness

Around 10:15 I noticed the place starting to clear out a bit, there was still plenty of alcohol left at the tasting stations, I think that many of the males and younger-ish crowd might have just gone downtown to hit the bar scenes. ¬†So my friend and I chatted with more people we knew that we ran into: one girl from our lab and for me, one girl I went to undergrad with! We totally recognized eachother but had completely forgotten eachother’s names. She was a year or two ahead of me, so we hadn’t seen eachother in 4 years since we last worked together at the volunteer touch tanks. ¬†So it was nice reconnecting with people and catching up! And since the night was winding down, my friend and I just wandered around the store until these SUPER CUTE hats and gloves caught my eye! ¬†So we did a little photo shoot (yes my hands can almost fit in these kid gloves) and had fun modeling these great items! ¬†Can you say “Inspiration for making my own gloves and hats in the future”?

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Consensus

Overall, ¬†it was fun as a ‘night out’, but I think in the future if this Whole Foods wants to have a Singles Night, might be better to have interactive games since most people that came together, stayed together in little groups. ¬†I read about someone else who went to a Whole Foods Singles Night where they got paired up to do a scavenger hunt around the store! THAT sounds FUN! This is a ‘new thing’ for Whole Foods, so maybe there will be new things in the future!¬†P.S. Apparently the Whole Foods near UC Davis holds University Singles Nights, wish something like that were near me! Would significantly lower the mean age of attendees…

Have you ever been to a singles night at Whole Foods?

Remember to enter my Valentines Day ENERGYbits Giveaway by clicking here!

Turkey Day

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to take a moment to thank the turkeys for providing the staple of the traditional family meal. ¬†And in honor of them, I’d love to share some silly wild Turkey videos with all of you! Yes, we have a harem of turkeys that have decided to live in the general vicinty of the property since early spring. ¬†My dog is curious, but unsure what these huge gobbling creatures are, since seeing them in ‘the wild’ is new to her as well. Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!

What are you thankful for?

Caterpillars, frogs and plants, oh my!

Today, I decided to share something silly and non-running related! There are cute fuzzy caterpillars crawling all over/around this clump of large shrubs near my house and I couldn’t help taking some photos. ¬†Even though I am not a fan of most bugs, caterpillars are a favorite and I think it might have to do with my butterfly obsession.

Last weekend I repotted my plants and found a frog hiding in the window sill! This is the 5th frog I have found in my house. ¬†Why? Well I had some plants previously living outside that I brought indoors, and apparently I brought tiny frogs in as well… The other 4 were caught and released outside, but unfortunately this one disappeared before I could catch it…its probably hiding in my plants somewhere. ¬†At least frogs are another type of creature I don’t find gross. And no, I did not stage the lizard and frog photo, one of the other frogs I discovered (a month ago) hopped there and it was such a perfect photo!

School started over a week ago and I haven’t had much time to blog! This weekend I will probably post about yoga, getting back into running and about my halloween costume plan, so be sure to check back soon!