The Dinner Detective

The Dinner Detective
The Dinner Detective is a national interactive murder mystery dinner show and made it’s debut in Oklahoma City in early June. Each Dinner Detective show begins with a cocktail interrogation session. During this time, all of the guests are encouraged to speak to the other guests. Unbeknownst to them, the show has already started.

Last night, Leslie and I attended one of the special Halloween shows where people had the option of arriving in costume. I received complementary passes for running an article on them on Uncovering Oklahoma. I had been looking forward to going to the show as I’ve never been to one before, other than ones I’ve made myself with my Movie Murder Mystery Party book.

The Dinner Detective with Detectives Guns and Roses
We had some hesitations about the show as the last few live shows we’ve seen fell flat. Those hesitations went away when Detectives Guns and Roses burst down an imaginary door because the Sheraton Hotel wouldn’t let them bust down the real doors. The actors were fantastic and energetic–and I’m not saying that because I knew most of them. It was a bit strange for me when I first saw someone I personally knew and I was given a look that told me, “I don’t know you.” When I saw more of my friends, who all turned out to be actors for the show, I had to play along that I didn’t know them. It’s kind of weird pretending not to know someone. After the show, I apologized to some of my friends for not being like friendly, but they knew I was playing along and were glad I didn’t blow their cover.

The show included a simple four course meal. Leslie and I had gotten the fish. Some of the other people at our table got the chicken. No one at our table had any complaints about the food other than that dinner could’ve be brought out a little sooner and maybe some more bread. The cash bar was standard, which a good selection of drinks.

The Dinner Detective
As for whodunit, I’m not going to tell. I will tell you we didn’t guess the murderer correctly, despite the edge of knowing which some of the guests were actors. The person who I thought was the murderer, ended up getting killed in the show. I was told after the show, that several people guessed I was the killer. Perhaps it was because of the clue I found? Yeah, let’s go with that answer.

In summary, The Detective Detective was fun a evening. If you do go, plan some extra time for parking and bring some friends.

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V.S.P. Wars

For a contest to win $50 each, my co-workers and I made this Star Wars parody video as part of a company campaign to get employees excited about taking V.S.P insurance. We spent a few days working on the script, about an hour recording it, and I spent three hours editing everything together. We all had fun filming this video. The whole store thinks our is the best video out of all of the submitted videos. :)

Dennis Spielman as Director/Editor
Melanie Cotanny as Princess Hoya
Cody Jones as Luke Spherewalker
Jimmy Alston as Obi One Base
Darlene Flores as R2-Diapoters
Katrina Parham as Jedi Sales Associate
Daniel Hardy as Jedi Customer
Phyllis Cole as Jedi Customer

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The Office of Dennis Spielman

Dennis Office Sept 2014
I thought it would be fun to show off my office. I enjoy seeing other writer’s offices so I’m sure someone will enjoy mine. I recently bought a new monitor to connect to my MacBook Pro and sold my old iMac. I’ve had my iMac since early 2009 and it was started to show it’s age, especially compared to my beast of a laptop. I bought the ASUS PB278Q 27-Inch WQHD LED-lit Professional Graphics Monitor. The colors and screen resolution are phenomenal! I wish the speakers were too. I cleaned the desk and the room for that matter to take this picture today.

The paintings on the wall to the right were either done by me, Leslie, or for me by my friend, Anthony Nguyen. Not pictured is a corner to the left of two of my photographs as canvas prints.

What’s that on my laptop? A Spotify playlist for The Time Traveling Troupe? Yes, I’ve been collecting songs that fit or inspire the show. I have the first 12 episode season outlined with a few notes for the second and third seasons. I’m still a few years away from filming the first episode. My current book I’m working on does have a guest appearance from a character from the series.

Anyway, I wanted to share how my office was coming along.

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The Atlanta, Georgia Trip

2014-08-30 Downtown Atlanta. Photo by Dennis Spielman
During an extended Labor Day Weekend trip, Leslie and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia to visit my family and explore the city. We took a 5:30 a.m. (blah, so early) direct flight to Atlanta, arriving there around 9 a.m. local time.

2014-08-30 Highland Bakery photo by Dennis Spielman
My parents took us out for breakfast at Highland Bakery located in the Old 4th Ward. We all had seen them on a food show on Netflix, and since my parents hadn’t been there yet, we HAD to go. I had their french toast, pictured above, and it was delicious. The $10 meal was made with thick slices of challah bread and topped with fresh fruit and French cream.

After breakfast, they drove us to the tiny town of Juliette, which was on my Mom’s To-Visit List. If you’ve seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes then the town will look familiar. I personally hadn’t seen the movie. Along with handful of antique shops and sets leftover from the movie, there was the actual Whistle Stop Cafe. We didn’t eat there as it was busy and we were still full from breakfast.

2014-08-30 Mystic Falls sign-01
Keeping with the movie locations theme, the next town we visited was Covington. We didn’t explore too much as Leslie and I were tired and needed to check into our hotel. I did snap a picture of the Welcome to Mystic Falls sign from the TV series Vampire Diaries.

The rest of the Saturday evening consisted of us people watching the cosplayers from Dragon Con (which we weren’t able to fit in), roaming downtown as we had dinner at Jalapeño Charlies.

On Sunday, Leslie and I went to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Go see it. My photo gallery barely scratches the surface of it’s size and beauty. We spent half the day there. Just, go visit.

The other half of the day we took my first taxi ride, a completely stereotypical experience with the driver honking and rolling the window down to yell at people. Our ride brought us to Lenox Square a.k.a. the rich mall. In one of the stores I picked up a $2,000 pair of boots–and then quickly put them back down after seeing the price tag. $2,000 for shoes! Nope. Not for me. Still a cool mall. There was a cupcake shop called Sprinkles where we enjoyed some yummy cupcakes.

Monday morning was spent with my family at Underground Atlanta followed by shopping at Atlantic Station, which we enjoyed more. For lunch we ate at The Pig and The Pearl, where I had the Knife & Fork Brisket Sandwich. It was good, but too smokey for my tastes.

In the evening, we took a long drive to Helen, which I had visited before with my family, but not with Leslie. We didn’t go tubing–didn’t want to carry around the clothes for it–but we explored the shops that were still open. We didn’t get back to our hotel until very late that night.

Our final day, Tuesday, was spent in Five Little Points (again, been there before). Leslie got herself a spa treatment while I wandered around. Front Page News was for lunch before we caught our flight back home.

While we did a ton things, we didn’t do everything we wanted. I guess we have an excuse to go back. :)

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Eureka Springs

2014-07-04 Eureka Springs-03
For the Fourth of July weekend, Leslie and I took a vacation in the beautiful Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The one word we joking used to described our trip: stairs. Eureka Springs is a hillside tourist town and so we walked along many up and downhill trails, slopes, ramps and, of course, staircases. Don’t let the workout discourage you–it’s worth it. Fortunately they have an excellent trolly system, and I suggest buying the all-day pass to get around hilly town. It won’t rescue you from ALL the stairs, but you’ll be glad for the break.

Here’s an overview of our trip for ideas for your own adventure.

2014-07-04 Eureka Springs-01 Cafe Amore
After checking into our hotel, we had dinner at Cafe Amore (2070 E Van Buren, Eureka Springs, AR 72632). We split the hot and delicious Friday Special – Homemade White Lasagna with Alfredo sauce, chicken, bruschetta, artichoke, mushrooms and 3 cheese, with salad and garlic bread. For dessert we shared a piece of Slow Death by Chocolate Cake (which was as delicious as it sounds, if not actually deadly).

We drove around the town for a little bit to get a feel for the town. Driving around the major highway roads, there isn’t much to see. However, I was wowed when we turned into Historic Downtown Eureka Springs, for this is where the city truly shines. We took a short walk and then we went out to a nearby resort for a fireworks show (it was the 4th of July, after all!).

Saturday morning we went out for breakfast at Cravings (508 Village Circle, Eureka Springs, Arkansas 72632). When we arrived, they weren’t open quiet yet. Across from them was Pine Mountain Tower. The tower was originally used by the forestry service and is 100 feet tall, and with a dollar in quarters and a tight squeeze through the security gate you can climb up to the top if you like. And we climbed it, all 100 feet of rickety wooden staircases and swaying metal bars (not for the faint of heart, let me tell you)! Pictures for proof, just ignore Leslie’s crazy wind hair. I think climbing climbing down was a bit more nerve racking than going up. (Are you starting to see why we described the trip with the word ‘stairs’?)

 Eureka Springs: Cravings
By the time we got down, we had worked up an appetite for breakfast (and could no longer feel our legs, but that’s the price you pay for adventure sometimes). Because Cravings is not part of the touristy downtown, it is considered a hidden gem by the locals. There was a generous selection of breakfast items, including muffins and cinnamon biscuits, as well as cookies and cupcakes. We highly recommend them, even if you’re on a diet, because we believe that you don’t gain calories on vacation. OR you could always go up the tower afterwards ;)

The Music Park
After breakfast, we drove to the downtown area. We left our car at one of the few free parking lots, which is a bit north past everything, and journeyed towards downtown on foot. Our fist attraction was the music park, a novelty to both of us. It contains a mix of musical sculptures that were designed to be played, such as a giant xylophone, a “walking” wind chime tuned to the song “Give Peace a Chance” by the Beatles, and other interactive musical instruments.

Above, a gallery of some of the sights seen in the Historic Downtown.

Food at Nibbles
For lunch that day, we ate at Nibbles Eatery (79 Spring Street, Eureka Springs, AR 72632). One of the tiniest restaurants I’ve had the pleasure of eating at, Nibbles had a staff of three people – waiter, busboy, and the chef. If you can get a seat, take it before it’s gone!

While essentially the entire town is a community of artists, The Art Colony is a hodgepodge of studios and living spaces for local sculptors, painters, and more. I give it huge props for it’s unique architectural design. The bridge to The Art Colony is an excellent example of the creative spirit within the space.

Quigley's Castle
One of the most popular tourist attractions is Quigley’s Castle (274 Quigley Castle Rd, Eureka Springs, AR 72632). Quigley’s Castle was the dream home of Elise Quigley, a nature enthusist who lived from 1910 to 1984. Mrs. Quigley designed and hand-built just about everything on the property, from the fossil-studded walls on the outside of the home to the two-story tropical garden INSIDE the home. The garden paths feature over 400 varieties of flowers and lead around secluded benches, a lily pond and bird baths up to her home which she beautifully covered with stones and fossils she’d collected since childhood. Quigley’s Castle also has butterfly, fossil, crystal, arrowhead and glassware collections beyond imagination.

2014-07-05 Eureka Springs-63 Cosmic Cavern
From the castle, we drove up to Cosmic Cavern (6386 Arkansas 21, Berryville, AR 72616), a delight for adventurers of any age. During the roughly hour long tour, we saw two bottomless lakes and various cave formations, including one of the longest soda straw formations in the Ozarks. The privately owned cave is camera friendly and there are several photo opportunities throughout the tour. Bring your good walking shoes, however, and be prepared for some low ceilings, slippery patches and, of course, stairs.

The rest of our Saturday evening consisted of exploring gift shops back in Downtown Eureka Springs. We enjoyed burgers and waffle fries for dinner at the New Delhi Cafe and enjoyed people watching from the patio as the sun set.

2014-07-06 Eureka Springs-80
Sunday morning, our last day, we had the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at Pancake’s Family Restaurant (2055 E Van Buren, Eureka Springs, AR 72632). Obligatory American breakfast picture above for reference.

A Working Bunny
Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes. There’s a gift shop, East by West (9 Center St. Eureka Springs, AR 72632), we stopped at that is home of the Working Bunnies. Yes, these are actual rabbits, and once we heard about them we had to see it to believe it. I bought my sister a birthday card from there to see the bunny in action. The store owner gave the bunny the package and the bunny gave it to me.

2014-07-06 Eureka Springs-87 Casa Colina
For lunch on our last stop out of town, we had lunch at Casa Colina (173 S Main St, Eureka Springs, AR 72632). The picture of their patio just goes to show that there is hardly any place in Eureka Springs that is not picturesque.

From Oklahoma City, the drive to Eureka Springs was about five hours. There were plenty more attractions nearby that we just didn’t have the time to see this time. If you are thinking about making a first-time visit, it would be fun going with a group of friends and everyone could stay together in a treehouse. We personally recommend Eureka Springs for a vacation destination.

Happy Adventures!

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