January 15, 2011

Report on the Murder Mystery!

And here we are with the long awaited report on our murder mystery. Despite the fact that James and I were still writing up cue cards a mere two hours before it started, the evening was an unprecedented success! I give credit for the fun time to all of our friends and family who really got into character. I was in peals of laughter at the outbursts of angry Portugese from the Viceroy of Macau, the snuffbox, sneezing and embarrassing medical diagnoses of Dr. Wang, the mysteries of the Tao expounded upon by Master Huang, the operatic bursts of song from Esmeralda Castafiore, the unashamed American pride of the US Marshal and much much more!

So we wound our way down the paths of mystery, with great shocking revelations, startling accusations and, yes, even a few downright fights!

Here are some pictures of our great event.

Group Photo
James' sisters (Mei Li and the maid)
Our roommate (Japanese art collector)
My Dad (US Marshal Orin L'Amour)
James and I (and my wig!)
James' Sister (Madame Wang) and her husband (Dr. Wang)
My Mom (famous American opera singer Esmeralda Castafiore)
Me as the Empress Dowager Cixi with my puppet, the Emperor
Our good friends (the Dread Pirate Tshin Kuo-Hak and his cabin boy)
Goofy, goofy James (Sir James Basswood Yaardley)

Our Brother-in-law (Master Huang)
My sisters (Sister Maria Franco and Sister Maria Ascuncion) and our roommate (the Cardinal)

My sister and her husband (The Portuguese Viceroy of Macau)
James' brother (German mercenary) with an African head carving

Now here comes the shameless advertising. After all the time and effort we have put into this mystery, we have decided to experiment and see if we might be able to make a profit from this!

If you want to find out the intricacies of our story, experience the thrill of a good mystery and get dressed up with your friends for an evening, James and I are considering the option of renting ourselves out to conduct our murder mystery with you and your friends. You would provide the guest list, the location, the food (and a rental fee), and James and I would arrange the rest, even coming to your home in character to facilitate the smooth progression of your party. Make us an offer! We dare you!

Our own little trial run revealed certain glitches that need to be fixed, and of course, the expectation is that there will be some parts of the mystery that run slower than others. We are not professionals and we are still learning, but all of our guests said that they had a really great time.

Of course, the mystery will only be as good as the people who are participate, so you must be sure that you have outgoing participants. Enthusiasm is a must. And everyone must be dedicated to staying in character and following directions, even when told to do something "embarrassing"!

Further update - My last round of chemo went really, really well. Apparently the extra strong nausea meds did the trick. Ironically, I had more of an appetite while on the chemo than I have had in months. I have also started the injections for my white blood cells, and those side effects also seem to be minimal (some bone pain). I have another MRI on Jan25.

We have also begun the new term for school. For me, re-entering chemistry after a five year break has been a little like diving into a cold pool of water. I have been reminded of how much chemistry I used to know.
Nutrition requires a lot of chemistry, but it is a very specific branch of chemistry, so I have forgotten a lot of the stuff from other branches.
Needless to say, a lot of studying is in order. It is starting to come back (thank you God!), but I have had to review some real basics in order to retrieve it. Balancing reactions, laws of thermodynamics, bond energy of glucose... I came home from my second class crying and feeling so out of the loop! I have been glued to my textbook for the last day, and thankfully, along with the returning knowledge is a returning love for Chemistry. Its hard, but I love the way that it is so logical!

The unfortunate news in our family is that the extra grant that would have allowed our whole family to go to Bali, was turned down. I suppose that if I were handing out grants, I would choose an application that overtly expanded science over one that involved flying a family to Bali so that they can stay together. Of course it sucks and we still haven't figured out how the summer will go now with this change in our plans. I won't pretend to be happy about this turn of events, but I also feel that it would be pointless to get overly upset about it (plenty of time for that later!).

Anyhow, that's all for now!

January 04, 2011

Coming Soon... The Murder Mystery!

I'm sure you'll remember that I posted our Murder Mystery invite on here a while back. We ended up having to postpone it by a week due to a family situation. And that means that this Saturday, Jan.8 will be the grand unveiling! We are getting very excited!

Our story is set in the 1880's near Shanghai in China. A Portugese Priest has been found murdered, at his inland mission. Portugal is upset with China and considering military intervention, and China is angry at the insinuation that they are killing foreigners! Queen Victoria wonders if there is need for British involvement. All of this lies amidst mysterious backdrop of ancient Taoist art gone missing, a thriving underground opium trade and piracy on the high Formosan Seas!

Sixteen invitation have been extended and accepted to a small circle of friends and family. A wide selection of costumes have been rented or created. Character information sheets have been sent to each person. Secrets abound! And all of this comes to a climax at our house on Jan.8.

Here is a list of the characters who will be taking part in our mystery...

James Basswood Yaardley III, 9th Earl of Hampshire – A magistrate sent by her Majesty Queen Victoria to investigate the death of the Priest. He must inform the Queen whether it will be necessary to assist Portugal in a war against China.

Lady Hedwig von Bremerhaven – Wife of the 9th Earl of Hampshire

Arturo XXX, Viceroy of Portuguese Macao – As a Portugese citizen, the Priest fell under the jurisdiction of the Viceroy of Macao. If the Priest was murdered by Chinese locals, it becomes be his responsibility to bring his troops into the area and teach the locals a lesson.

Sister Maria-Franco, Nun of the Order of St. Bartholomew – She has worked at the St. Joseph’s Mission for 20 years

Sister Maria-Asuncion, Nun of the Order of St. Bartholomew – She only arrived a few weeks before the murder from Portugal to work at the St. Joseph’s Mission

Sgt. Major Orin L’Amour - United States Marshal – He has come to investigate missing art and stolen money on behalf of the Hartford Castafiores

Esmeralda Castafiore (“of the Hartford Castafiores”) – She is a famous American opera singer who paid a large sum of money for art that was never delivered to her.

Tshin Kuo-hak – Notorious Pirate King of the Formosan Sea

Yang Yang – Cabin Boy of Tshin Kuo-hak

Cixi, Empress Dowager of China – She wants to ensure that the missionary’s death does not lead to a foreign attack on Chinese soil

His Excellence, Cardinal Garibaldi di Popomobilissimo – The Cardinal is the Priest’s superior, and has come to investigate his death on behalf of the Catholic church

Dr. Wang – A reputable doctor of Chinese Traditional Medicine who lives in Shanghai. He often partnered with the Priest to provide free medical care at the Catholic mission

Madam Wang – She is the socialite wife of the reputable Chinese doctor Dr. Wang. She is very elegant, and from a very influential family in Shanghai. She was educated in America.

Master Huang, Abbot of Shanshan Taoist Monastery – The monastery is located close to St. Joseph’s mission. It is well known that the Abbot dislikes the Priest.

Mei Li – Chinese born, American educated, Mei Li returned to Shanghai with America’s famous free spirited attitude. She runs an opium den in Shanghai.

Klaus von Hess – He is a German mercenary (born in the Province of Hesse-Nassau). He has fought in wars on most continents, but currently shines his rifle for the Portuguese army of Macao.

Lao Pangzi – She is the Chinese washer woman and cook who has worked at the St. Joseph’s Mission for twenty years.

Aiko Yakamoto – Ms. Yakamoto is a wealthy Japanese art collector from Tokyo.

The only downside to our party was the dismaying news that I will back on chemotherapy for five days Jan.5-9, and that our party falls in this timeframe. Not so much fun, but we will press on regardless of my condition!

My pharmacy filled a massive prescription for me last week, and even the pharmacist were feeling bad for me and expressing concern! Two anti-nausea meds (one so strong that they had to appeal to a higher governing authority for approval). Two strengths of oral chemotherapy. Seven doses of injections to raise my White Blood Cell count over the next 14 days (side effects: bone pain, joint pain, nosebleeds and headaches). All of this on top of my anti-seizure meds and acid blockers for my stomach!

This update is not here so that you pity me. It is merely an update so that if you think of me over the next week you can pray that I am not just welded to my bed. There are numerous side effects to all these meds and they all sound less than appealing. My biggest struggle these days is my appetite, which is pretty much non-existent. Food has entirely lost its appeal for me (a sad loss - I never realized before how much pleasure I got from eating a good meal). I can only eat when my hunger pangs force me to, and then I need to stop as soon as the pangs are gone. Sweet things have no appeal whatsoever. For the most part I have learned to control and live with the whims of my stomach, but small disturbances easily make whatever is in there come up. I can see myself quickly becoming skeletal!

Nonetheless in spite of the discomfort, my spirits are high and I consider myself to be a very blessed individual. I celebrated my 27th birthday yesterday and it was very pleasant indeed. I am very thankful for my life.