Murder can be fun. Just ask Vickie Katschke, whose Scene of the Crime Productions in Milwaukee writes and stages "murder weekends" at inns and hotels around the country. And the guests who pull out their magnifying glasses to become sleuths for the weekend agree.
These days, it seems almost every resort with a mystery book in its library offers a murder mystery weekend. But each handles it differently.
- Sometimes guests become both players and suspects. At The Churchtown Inn in the Amish country of Pennsylvania, innkeeper Stuart Smith interviews guests beforehand, casts the roles and sends everyone a script in advance.
- At The Waverly Inn in Hendersonville, North Carolina, the professional troupe acting out the murder and investigation checks in like the rest of the guests. "When the `murder' occurs, the guests become part of live theatre," says innkeeper John Sheiry. "The `police' question them, and their curiosity draws them into helping catch the criminal."
- Guests at the Inn of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (below, left), are guided by a semiprofessional cast in their hunt for clues. "The search often takes them into town, so they can meet the enclaves of artists here," says Roberta Carter, associate dean of Tulsa University's Division of Continuing Education, which runs the weekends.
There's no central listing of murder mystery weekends, but ask around: A willing suspect in your circle can clue you in.
Play It Safe
Playing weekend tennis? On a softball league? You're likely to join the walking wounded if you rush out without warming up properly. The routine adds a few minutes to your pre-game plan, but you'd be surprised how many injuries it prevents, says Allan Levy, co-author of Sports Injury Handbook: Professional Advice for the Amateur Athlete (John Wiley & Sons).
How to warm up? Before playing a sport or exercising intensively, do light calisthenics, take a brisk walk, jog lightly, or do any other easy exercise gradually. The goal is to raise the body's temperature by about 2 degrees, which happens when you break into a sweat, says Levy.
Recreational athletes tend to stretch first and then begin exercising. Wrong. Warm up first, then stretch. That's because cold muscles pull, says Dr. Gene Kastelberg, sports doctor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. He recommends slowly stretching the neck, back, shoulders, arms and legs; holding each stretch for 15 to 20 seconds; and repeating each three times. Don't bounce, and don't overdo it: A stretch should never be painful.
After the game or workout, says Kastelberg, stretch again to prevent soreness and increase flexibility.
To Tell The Truth?
Should you tell your child about your business's financial reverses? Late payments? Problems with the staff? A lawsuit?
"Kids are quick to pick up on household tension, and unless someone explains what's going on in terms appropriate to their age and maturity, they become terribly anxious and imagine the worst," says Irving Barocas, co-author of Kids, Money & Values (Betterway Books). "You don't have to go into detail. If you listen to their questions (`Are we going to be homeless?' `Will I be able to go to college?'), you'll understand they're really worried about their own security."
Explain the problem clearly and simply, remove as much of the fear as possible, couch the discussion in terms of hope, and talk about what's being done to resolve the problem, Barocas suggests. If, for example, sales are down and you can't take a planned vacation, you might tell elementary-school-age kids the vacation has been postponed because you need to stay home to set up a new marketing plan to stem the problem.
With teenagers, you might provide more insight about your plans. "But don't let children feel responsible for solving difficulties," says Barocas. "That's the parent's obligation."
The Churchtown Inn, (717) 445-7794;
Dr. Gene Kastelberg, 7605 Forest Ave., #100, Richmond, VA 23229, (804) 288-1699;
Dr. Allan Levy, GML.LEVY@worldnet.att.net;
Scene of the Crime Productions, (800) 647-2363, fax: (414) 529-7786;
University of Tulsa, Division of Continuing Education, (918) 631-2524, fax: (918) 631-2025;
The Waverly Inn, (800) 537-8195, (704) 693-9193, email@example.com.