Jeannie's birthday was a month ago, but we celebrated it last night at her apartment, with food, drink, and... MURDER!
As Jeannie explained in her blog a few weeks ago, her family has a history of playing murder mystery dinner party games. I've played two of these before, and the rest of the party hadn't played any, but Jeannie has played about fifty, and could probably do this in her sleep. This was her request for her birthday, though, so we agreed.
Jeannie transformed her dining room into Hawaii for the event:
or, you know, kind of a Brady Bunch idea of what Hawaii looks like.
As party guests, we transformed ourselves into characters:
Brian, on the left, is a local tribal chieftan who had a mysterious falling out with the victim, and Elizabeth is a local hula dancer, with a mysterious missing fiancee, who treated the victim to a very angry hula dance shortly before his death by poisoned mai tai. Ben played the victim's surf bum business partner, underpaid but mysteriously wealthy:
and Kristin played Nadia, famous swimsuit model on vacation who hooked up with the victim at a local nightclub and has a long, tabloidy history of jealous rage and famous boyfriends:
Kristin stopped at Fresh Market on her way to the party, and bought food in that outfit, without pants in 50 degree weather. If they had a "People of Fresh Market" website, like they do for People of Wal Mart, Kristin would be all over it today. In her defense, I think she said she didn't wear the hat, but the hat makes the outfit.
Jeannie, playing a wealthy socialite with a much older husband, somehow didn't make it into the pictures, and all of the pictures of me, dressed as a vacationing clueless tourist overly concerned with his missing luggage, are blurry. You'll just have to use your imagination, but be sure to imagine that we look fabulous. You should also imagine that I have a full head of thick, lustrous hair because, you know, you already fired up your imagination, so you might as well go full tilt.
Anyway, Jeannie gave us each a place setting:
with our name, our script, and a strategic clue to be deployed (usually against another player) at various points in the game. Once we had food and drinks, we took our places and got to accusing:
and to breaking character and almost choking when we ad-libbed a little too far from the original script:
That's either right after Kristin set Brad Pitt's car on fire and stabbed Johnny Depp in the arm with a fork in a jealous rage or right after I revealed that the real reason I was running away to Australia was that gay marriage is legal there and I learned the love that dare not speak its name while in prison. (Same sex marriage is actually not legalized in Australia, but the game didn't provide any real motivation for why my character was going there so I had to make something up on the fly.)
In the end, Jeannie abstained from voting because she had played this game before. One person voted for Elizabeth's angry hula dancer, especially after she confessed that her fiancee was missing because she sort of accidentally pushed him off a cliff while they were arguing, but she totally didn't think it would kill him. (She was unclear on what she thought it would do instead. Break all his bones? Maim him a little?) Three people voted for Kristin's batshit crazy maneating supermodel, who had gone to high school with the victim several plastic surgeries ago and then come to Hawaii to purchase two adjoining burial plots, telling the salesman that she was going to use one and that her and her true love would finally be together, but I recognized this as the obvious red herring that it was intended to be, and I accused Ben... OF MURDER!
It was clear to me that Ben was the actual blackmailer and that the murder victim was about to reveal his crime, so Ben took advantage of the suddenly wide pool of suspects and poisoned Chase Diamond's mai tai while casting suspicion on Nadia, and I was the only one who saw through his deception.
I won the murder game.
And then we had cake:
Delicious pineapple upside down cake that I made, which was super easy. If you want to make it, you'll need:
1 box pineapple cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 and 1/3 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
2/3 cup of butter
1 and 2/3 cups loosely packed brown sugar (I used dark)
1 20 oz can of pineapple rings
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Melt the butter in the microwave (watch it so that it doesn't explode) and then pour it into a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Slowly tilt the pan back and forth so that the entire bottom is buttered.
3) Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter.
4) Arrange the pineapple rings on top of the brown sugar (no overlapping) and put a cherry in the middle of each one. If there are leftover rings, eat them, because you're probably not getting enough fruit.
5) Add all of the other ingredients together in a mixing bowl, and mix them. Pour the batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven for 45 minutes, and then take it out if a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
6) Let it cool in the pan for about five minutes, and then turn it over onto something to serve it on. We didn't have a serving platter, so we turned it over onto a cookie sheet.
Important note: You have to do the turnover while the pan is still warm, because the brown sugar will still be liquid and the cake will fall out. If you let it cool too much, it will stick in the pan and mess up the cake.
I like to think that victory made the cake extra delicious.