Archive for September, 2011

Call me Butterbuns – J. A. Bove

Well friends, I have to admit this was a new one for me. The other night I was invited to attend my first ever mystery dinner theater. I truly had no idea what to expect, but assumed it would be a good time. This is why you don’t ever assume. Say it with me – because you make an ass out of u and me. Don’t get me wrong, all in all I had a wonderful time, I just didn’t expect to be the entertainment.

When we first arrived I knew I would be in a for an interesting evening. I saw a man dressed as a sheik, not common in the Tampa area. I saw another dressed in a tux, man was I under dressed, and others yet were dressed in costumes ranging from the Phantom of the Opera to the roaring twenties. I knew we were going to a ‘billionaire’s ball‘, but I didn’t realize how serious people take these events.

We check into the theater and grab a drink by the bar. I told the wife that we better come up with a cover story as to how we made our billions, just in case we were put on the spot by the actors in the group. Boy was I lucky I at least had that frame of mind going into this event. I had no idea what was about to come my way. We were escorted to our table and had a seat with our friends. I just happened to sit near the center of the room, which in turn proved to be a big mistake.

Shorty after we sat, one of the actors approached my friend sitting to my right and placed a hat on his head. She started giving him all these instructions and he was totally lost. This was to be expected – he doesn’t speak a word of English. I made the mistake of explaining this to the woman when she took the hat from his head and placed it on mine. You’re Butterbuns, she told me. I pleaded with some other friends to take the hat, but like the big cowards that they were, they refused. I came here to be entertained, not to entertain. So be it, I’m Reginald Butterbuns. Who comes up with this stuff?

My wife assured me it wouldn’t be so bad … and then we get handed a book. Now in this book I’m to learn the back story of my character, why I had motive to kill, and what I was supposed to do. Work the room you say? Make grand speeches you say? Study your answers because people will grill you, what? Right about now I wished I didn’t speak English. The show must go on!

All said and done, I did my part. I worked the room, I got people on my side, and best of all I won the best actor award for the evening. What, little old me? I had to admit, I did have a lot of fun, and I really got into my role. I played a wealthy entrepreneur who didn’t kill his businesses partner, he just paid someone to do it for him. One of my goals was to get the audience to vote for me to be the president of the billionaires club. Who knows, maybe saying the line ‘vote for Butterbuns‘ over and over again got drilled into some heads.

Bottom line, if you ever get invited to go to a mystery dinner theater go with caution. You may end up serving the lines instead of being served. Would I do it again, maybe. At least I would know what to expect this time around, but is that really  for the better? Who knows, but it did make for a memory I’ll not soon forget.

Are You a Man-Child? – J. A. Bove

What kind of man are you? Me personally – I’m a husband, a father, and a provider for my family, yet for many years I have been called a man-child. Not by those who may know me in the workforce, or even by casual acquaintances, but by the ones who know me best. And I have to admit, they’re probably right. Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so, but what do I know. I’m biased.

Is it that I have a Peter-Pan complex and I’m afraid to grow up? Who knows, I don’t believe that to be the case. I work hard and take my job very seriously. I always pay my bills on time and ensure to save appropriately for the future. I don’t shirk responsibility; I do what needs to be done to take care of my family. So why the label? Just because a man enjoys the simple pleasures of a good cartoon program, a funny t-shirt, and likes to buy expensive toys, does that truly make you a man-child? Below is a simple quiz I’ve created with myself as the guinea pig of this life long study on the subject to answer the all-important self-discovering question … Are you a man-child?

Dress – Do you keep up with all the latest fashions and know who the latest designers are, or do you think Tommy Hilfiger is just some dude who wrote his name on a shirt like your mother did for you when you were younger? Do you like to wear suits, or do you feel the only need to wear a suit is in front of a judge? Do you wear slacks in the home, or blue jeans? Given the opportunity to buy a new shirt would you opt for the button down with a fancy label, or the t-shirt with a funny picture of Homer Simpson on the front? If you go to a sporting event, are you dressed in a polo with the team logo discreetly labeled on the shirt, or do you wear a team jersey? If you answered yes to the former part of each question, no worries my friend, you are a man. If you answered yes to the latter part of each question … hmm, interesting. Let’s continue.

Food – When given an opportunity to go out to a restaurant, do you go to one with a waiter, or do you prefer to wait on-line? If you’re forced to attend an upscale restaurant do you order something to challenge the taste buds and expand your horizons, or do you choose something that could be found in the kid’s meal section? At dinner, would you prefer a glass of wine, or a soda? If (dare I say it) you find yourself in a fast food restaurant do you order the adult meal and super-size it, or do you order the kids meal because it has a cool toy? Again, for those of you who answered yes to the first part of each questions, congratulations. I see some hair growing out of your chest. For those of you who answered yes to the latter …  come on, we’re almost done. I got some more exciting questions for you.

Entertainment – After a long day of work, do you put on the television and watch the evening news to catch up on the day’s events, or do you watch Sports Center? Do you prefer to watch CNBC, CNN, and FOX News, or do you watch ESPN, Cartoon Network, and FX? When you read the Sunday paper, do you read the business section and headline news, or do you read the sports page and the comics? When reading a book, do you like to educate yourself and learn new things, or do you read fiction? When going to a movie with your spouse, do you let her choose the movie, something tasteful, a good drama perhaps, or do you choose a vulgar comedy and go for the quick laugh? Former answers, bravo sir! You truly are a man of refinement. Latter answers, who’s my big boy? You made it through the quiz. What? You didn’t know it was a quiz … of course you didn’t, and it wasn’t. Now go get a cookie.

I could go on, but really, what’s the point? If you don’t know which you are by now, you never will. To the real men of the word, I apologize. I know this wasn’t a true scientific measure by any means, but remember I’m dealing with the attention deficit man-child. Now go get yourself some scotch, puff on that cigar, and discuss politics, for you sir, are the most interesting man in the world. For the man-child, don’t feel so bad. You know being a fellow man-child myself I have to admit; it’s a hell of a lot of fun. So let’s go grab a beer, pick-up that joystick, and God forbid, don’t forget to wear that good luck jersey!

Sucked Dry – J. A. Bove

Have you ever watched a movie and felt that it should have ended thirty minutes earlier, or read a book that you felt could have been cut short by about one hundred pages? Well this is how I felt about the latest season of True Blood, which just ended last Sunday. Don’t get me wrong, I was a big fan of the series, but I found that instead of getting stronger throughout the years, the series just got wilder, and weaker as each season progressed. I thought season four was a complete waste of time and I think I’m finally done with this series.

Where did it go wrong? Let’s face it; season one was truly unique and original – vampires that live among us, not as threatening enemies, but as people who just want to get along. Heck, they even drink synthetic blood to show us that we can all co-exist. How could you not find that interesting? You couldn’t. The show received critical acclaim and won an Emmy and a Golden Globe. HBO had yet another huge success on its hands. Well then, what’s the problem?

They had a hard time following the originality and just grew weird. I suppose they assumed that if you could have vampires that lived peacefully among us, why not other supernatural beings? Enter season two. Not only were we introduced to vampires who we thought we could trust, but apparently we couldn’t, now the world was introduced to maenads. What the hell is a maenad? Apparently they’re some combination of witch and demon with the power to influence humans. Okay, I went with it for a little while. The story line wasn’t as good as season one, but somewhat unique … take me to season three.

Okay, we have vampires, maenads, and now what? Ah werewolves. Ok, I can see that. I was a fan of the wolf-man movie as a kid, and I thought Werewolf in London was actually quite scary. Ok, werewolves and vampires, that sounds cool. No more maenads please. Okay, this season could be good, pull me right back in … what was that? You’re also going to introduce fairies? What kind of fairies – Tinker bell? We’ll have to wait and see in season four. Okay, well I’m not sure what I think about the fairy concept, but I won’t worry about that until next season. As far as season three was concerned, bravo, you won me back. Now let’s try to keep it interesting, throw in some great twists and I’m back on board.

Season four: Alright, I’ve had just about enough of this that I think I can tolerate. Recap, friendly vampires trying to fit into society (only a cover). Maenads influencing humans into all out orgies, done. Werewolves, and were-jaguars, still haven’t determined who’s side they’re on, but at least we know they hate vampires, and now evil fairies. Let’s not forget the witches, you can’t have a show of this calibur without witches. Now throw in some mummies and swamp people and I think you’ve covered the entire gambit of mythical evil creatures, that is unless … dare we say it … you add zombies into the mix. Well, there’s always season five (fingers crossed).

I think the biggest problem that I have with this program is that there’s no longer any suspense. Perfect example, in one of the last episodes, Sookie is surrounded by a ring of fire. Sookie No! Will they save her time, or will she perish? Of course they save her, they always save her. Just like they always save every star on this show. Even when they kill them off, they bring them back. Man, how do I get a hold of some of that V? And why is everyone in love with Sookie? Sure, she’s a pretty girl, but there’s plenty of fish in the ocean. I guess the pickings are pretty slim in Bon Temp. Finally, why Bon Temp? It’s a big world, you’re one hundred and fifty years old, surely there’s far more interesting places in the world to see.

So there you have it. I always do my best to put a positive spin on any program, movie, book I review, but sometimes you just got to say enough is enough. I think in the case of True Blood, I’ve had enough. Now bring on Boardwalk Empire, and please no more vampires.

Procrastination – J. A. Bove

This note goes out to all my fellow writers out there. Is it just me, or do you have a hard time getting started? I’ve recently started writing the third book in my Atlantis trilogy entitled ‘Mayhem’s Triangle’ and although I’m making good progress, I do have to admit; sometimes it’s hard getting motivated. Some days I feel that I’ll look for almost any excuse not to get started. Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t come down with a case of writer’s block (not just yet). On the contrary, I’m completely enjoying writing the third and final book of this trilogy. I find that when I do finally put my mind to it, things tend to flow nicely. Whenever I complete writing another chapter, I’m always happy with the results.

It’s just getting the ball rolling that I find most difficult. I compare it to going to the gym. I never want to go to the gym; as a matter of fact I loathe working out. Just the thought of having to drive down to the gym makes me tired. I’m jealous of the people I watch exit the gym, because I know they’ve completed their workout (show offs, looking all sweaty and satisfied because they’re done). I dread going through the motions, but I know it must be done. Funny thing, but I always feel good about myself after I’ve completed a workout, especially when I glance at the gym in my rear view mirror as I pull away.

The biggest problem I face is making time. It’s not like I’m some signed author who gets paid to do this for a living. I have to find time to write, and I find with three younger children in the house, the best thing to do is to get away from home. There’s no greater distraction than three kids looking for you to entertain them. So where do I go? Well, I admit, I’m lucky enough to have an office that I can escape to for just such a situation.

So what’s the problem you say? Sitting inside on a beautiful day in Tampa Bay, when you know there’s so much more you could, or probably should be doing other than cramming yourself up in an office to write. At times, I admit I do ask myself, why am I putting myself through this journey once again? Deep down, I know the answer. I love it, I hate it, but I love it.  Or should I say … I love when it’s done. It’s truly a great feeling to see the finished product, and no matter the torture it took you to get there, the reward is well worth the sacrifice you made to achieve your goal. Below is just a sample of a typical day of writing when my heart’s not in the mood.

Enter the office, grab a cup of coffee, and turn on my computer. I know I should just go right to the Word program, but no, I have to check up on my fantasy baseball team, just a quick peek. Still in first, awesome! What?!? A-Rod’s off the DL and he’s still not playing? Son of a beep is killing me. Oh well, better check my e-mails. Why is so much SPAM coming through to my e-mail? I better clear that up. Okay, all better, let’s do some writing.

Program loading – good, let’s get this done. Who am I writing about today? Better check my notes. Phone call, what? Who’s calling me at the office on a Saturday? Hmm, don’t recognize the number. Should I get it? Nah, better let it go to voice mail. I’ve got some serious writing to do here. Program open, okay, let’s download the document. What’s that beep? They left me a message. I should probably see who’s calling. Damn, stupid computer solicitation. Why do they leave voice mails? Ah well, delete this message. Back to work.

Where are my notes? I don’t see them in my bag, maybe I left them in my top drawer. What a mess. Oh man, I didn’t send this note out to my client yesterday, better do that now. Outlook opening … whoa, fifteen new messages, better reply to these. Okay, all done, now, where did I put those notes?  Here they are just where I first looked, in my book bag. Alright, who’s the subject du jour … shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, Mayhem, Adonia, Eramus – ah here it is, Bully. Bully huh? Alright, Bully it is. Where’s my outline? Ah I know, I have that saved on Word. Better open it.

Did I just hear a knock? No, it’s Saturday, who’s going to bother me on Saturday – this plaza’s empty. There it is again. Better sneak a peek. Oh man, it’s Roper (my landlord). The guy’s a Chatty-Kathy, better see what he wants. Great, he wants to talk about the markets. I’d love to chat, but busy, busy, busy, got things to do. Whew, that was a close one. What time is it? 1:00 pm? Man, I’ve been here for two hours and I’ve got nothing accomplished.

Feeling hungry. Better make some lunch. Thinking something light, ah nothing like a bowl of cereal to hit the spot. Mmm, love those Frosted Rice Crispies, tasty, yet surprisingly low on calories. Oh shoot, the Yankee game is on better put it on the boob tube … did Jeter hit 3,000 yet? Are you kidding me? I just missed it? A home run you say? What luck … Roper! Oh man, it’s almost two, I better get going, the wife’s waiting on me. Dang, didn’t get any writing done today. No worries, I’ll come back next week. I’ll get some serious writing done then, you’ll see, eventually some one will see.

Ghost Hunting: J. A. Bove

Hello thrill seekers, I’m back with yet another ghost hunting adventure. Over the weekend a small group of friends got together to do some actual ghost hunting in Ybor City’s very own Cuban Club. Now, for those of you not too familiar with the Cuban Club it was rated the top ten most haunted sights in America by the Travel Channel. In fact, TAPS very own Jason and Grant came down to my fair city and visited this very sight. After a full evening of investigation, they did declare the sight haunted. Below are my findings of the establishment.

All told, there were eight of us who went on this adventure. We made sure we had all the right equipment from EVP devices, to EMF meters, thermal cameras, and night vision goggles. We even downloaded some app that supposedly lets you know if a presence is in the room and if so, what they might be saying. Ok, so we’re equipped, it’s nighttime, and we’re in the club. All people have now vacated the premises and we’re the only ones in the building. It’s time to go hunting.

Now, I want to give you a little background on the club itself. It was first established back in 1917 and was created as a gathering place for members of the Cuban National Club. It remains open to this day and caters to concerts, dancing, and the cantina and theater are open to the general public. We were told going in that a number of violent murders had taken place in this club and that it still harbored many spirits. One is believed to be of an accountant who was murdered in cold blood, shot in the head while stealing money from the safe. Another is of a woman in white who floats around the stairways leading to the ‘brothel’ upstairs. The last is of a little boy who roams the area, apparently not a happy spirit, but unfortunately I don’t recall his back-story (boo, bad ghost hunting). I know, but my investigation will make up for this.

The EMF meters went off as soon as we entered the building, and when I mean went off, they were going crazy. There were no lights on in the establishment. The only light flowing through came from the outside. We ran an EVP session, but could not detect anything on our devices. The meters indicated that we were standing next to a presence and our thermal gauge did drop in temperature, but we had no personal experiences to share.  Keep in mind that they told us the air conditioning was turned off, which I’m not so sure I believed them. We are in Tampa in August no less, so if your thermal is reading seventy-five degrees, something is on … regardless, onward.

We went toward the theater and before entering, we felt a cold draft coming in from the front of what appeared to be a ticket booth. Again, they claim they a/c was off, but frankly, I think it was a draft coming in from the theater. Let me explain. Outside had to have been roughly ninety degrees (and I’m being kind), and it was clearly much cooler inside the theater itself. We registered a common temperature of seventy-five … logic would tell you … never mind. We entered the theater and this is when it got interesting.

We were given another brief overview and were told of a man who hung himself in the theater. Why? I don’t recall, (boo, I know), but we were led to the spot of the hanging. EMF meters spiked once again, but this time we received a heat spike as well. My daring brother played the part of Zach on Ghost Adventures and felt compelled to call out the spirit, demanding that it tug on his shirt, or make itself know. Nothing. Oh well, he then asked that to prove its presence if it would make the thermometer gauge spike to eighty-five degrees. It did. Okay, somewhat impressed, and on command I might add.

Next we explored the stage. Some of us broke off, while others remained on stage. Some went upstairs toward the unofficial brothel and others (myself) explored the seating area. For the people who remained downstairs we heard coins drop on to the stage. Everyone in the group adamantly denied tossing any change, or removing anything from their pockets. Interestingly enough, when the money hit the floor, my voice detector did catch the phrase: money. Coincidence, possibly, but it happened nonetheless.

Finally, the reason I decided to explore the seating area in front of the stage is because while on stage I thought I saw an orb. I put on the night goggles and looked out into the seating area and there it was plain as day. When I took off the goggles, and looked into the same area, it was pitch black. I pointed the orb out to my friend and when he placed the goggles on, he too saw the orb just sitting in the middle of the seating area. Okay, this needs further investigation.

We walked down the stage and into the middle of the seating section. When I finally discovered the spot of the orb, my thermal detector dropped from seventy-five degrees down to sixty-eight. My friend held up his EMF meter and it lit up like a Christmas tree. Neither of us received any voice detection, nor felt any presence. What was interesting though, is that each time we lowered our device, the EMF meter would stop. When we raised it in the air above our heads, it spiked. Again, this was a big open theater and it did not spike anywhere else in the seating area. Spirit detected? I can’t confirm.

End result, we spent roughly half an hour investigating the area. Certainly not a sufficient amount of time needed to draw any conclusions. Did we all encounter our devices to activate in one fashion or another? Yes. Did any of us have any personal experiences? No. Bottom line, whether you choose to believe or night, it made for a fun evening out with friends. We all had a drink afterwards and shared our thoughts on the evening. Will Grant and Jason ask me to join the team, doubtful, but would I do something like this again, most definitely.