Patsy Porco

Patsy Porco, Crime Solver?

In Humor, Murder Mystery on February 1, 2016 at 12:27 am

Last night, my husband, four strangers, and I went in search of a serial killer. We did all of the legwork in a locked room filled with trunks and desks bearing combination locks. Each lock was different. Some had number combinations. Some had up/down/left/right combinations. Some had number and letter combinations (but only some of the alphabet was represented). Each locked drawer or trunk held a clue or two. The door to the room also had a combination lock that we had to solve before we could escape from the room in order to find our killer. And, we had one hour to accomplish everything.

Fortunately, my husband and the other four people found all of the clues, opened all of the locks, located the whereabouts of the serial killer, and got us out of the room before our time was up. Otherwise, I would not be writing this post. I would be the next clue.

I was very little help to them. I had a splitting headache. I tried to look useful by turning over furniture, in the search for clues. I found a cassette tape attached to the underside of a chair and a paperback, with circled words on page 187, in the magazine rack. I spent the rest of my time trying to assemble Scrabble tiles, that the others had found, into a coherent clue. Little did I know that I didn’t have all of the tiles. They turned up later in another locked drawer. I was also absolutely no help with the analytical part of the process. Even if I had felt wonderful, I wouldn’t have been an asset to the group. My brain isn’t analytical even on my best days.

There were two bodies found in trunks, as well as a bolt, clock, mirror, deck of cards, a crossword puzzle, a ring, a statue of the Eiffel Tower, a phone charger, a typewriter, a poster, and lots of other clues spread around the room and in desk drawers. Most of the clues were locked away and the combination of every lock had to be discovered before the clues could be located.

As I said earlier, our group opened every lock, found every clue, and made sense of them all. Then they opened the locked door to the room, with the street number where the serial killer was hiding. Our work ended there. I have to assume that someone followed up.

There was a lot of assuming, but that’s because this was a game, as you no doubt have inferred from the clues I’ve left scattered throughout this essay. It was a locked-room, panic-room, or escape-room mystery game—one of many that are taking off in the United States. According to the company that offered this game, as well as three others in the same building, the craze started in Asia, moved to the United Kingdom, and is now sweeping the United States.

My nephew had been to a similar game in Koreatown in Manhattan, and there are a number of such games throughout New York City. I never expected my town, Norwalk, Connecticut, to be on the cutting edge of cool games, but it is. The location of this game was within a mile of my house, in an office building where my friend works. He didn’t even know it was there until we told him. Apparently a lot of the people who work in that building haven’t noticed the constant stream of giddy crime solvers flooding their hallways. Perhaps that’s why the killers chose to leave their clues there.


Paniq January 30, 2016

My husband, Frank, and I are on the far left. Frank’s “6:03” sign indicates how much time we still had left to solve the crime. “187” is name of the game.

A Big Plate of Grease

In food, Food, Humor, Irish Breakfast on January 4, 2016 at 1:02 am

irish-breakfast-large-plate-17585745We went to brunch with our friends today at an Irish pub/sports bar. It was unnerving to be talking quietly among ourselves and then to suddenly have everyone else in the place jump to their feet, shouting and backslapping. It wasn’t as if you could prepare yourself for these outbursts because, football being football, anything can happen at any time.

That wasn’t the worst part of the experience, though. I ordered the “Irish Breakfast.” It sounded so ethnic and charming, and whenever I had read about this breakfast in novels, I vowed to order it sometime. I had hoped to be in Ireland when I did, but I was in Norwalk, CT, and it was offered, so I ordered it. Baked beans are included in the breakfast, and that sounded exotic, too, even though I had read that many people (mostly older people, I think) in Boston eat baked beans on toast for breakfast. I reasoned that they got the habit from their English-Irish ancestors, so it still qualified as being “foreign.”

I was pleased with my adventurous eating … until the dish arrived. What was delivered to me was plate of greasy sausage, shriveled ham, two over-easy eggs, cooked tomatoes, mushrooms, and a small bowl of lukewarm baked beans. There were also two slices of “pudding.” The pudding wasn’t what we consider pudding to be; it was sausage. I ordered the white pudding, because I knew the black pudding was composed mostly of blood. Even though the white pudding wasn’t made of blood, it had a tangy taste that made me think that it might have been made of another bodily fluid. One bite was enough.

“This is a plate of grease!” I said to my friend.

“It’s an Irish Breakfast,” she said, surprised at my surprise. “You do know that it’s called the ‘hangover breakfast,’ don’t you?”

“No!” I said. “I had no idea.”

“Yes,” she said. “Greasy food is good for people with hangovers.”

“I’m not hungover,” I said. “So, this is just disgusting.”

“Well, there aren’t many carbs,” she said. “That’s a benefit of the Irish Breakfast.”

Maybe there weren’t many carbs in the meal, but I’d need to eat a loaf of bread to sop up the grease, which would negate any benefits of this awful meal.

One thing I learned today was to stop romanticizing foreign food. If I ever get to England, I will not order “Bubble and Squeak” or “Toad in the Hole,” until I see what those dishes are composed of.


Photo credit: ID 17585745 © Jörg Beuge |

Merry Christmas Season

In Christmas, Christmas Season, Humor on December 29, 2015 at 4:36 pm

As our pastor, Rev. Michael Boccaccio, points out every year, “Christmas is not a day, it’s a season.” The Christmas season traditionally starts on Christmas Day and ends on the Feast of the Epiphany (or Little Christmas in some parts of the world), which falls on January 6, the day the wise men showed up at the stable in Bethlehem.

Partridge in a Pear TreeA song was even written to commemorate “The 12 Days of Christmas.” For the life of me, I can’t figure out if you’re not supposed to count Christmas Day as one of the 12 days, or the Epiphany. If you count them both, then you have the 13 days of Christmas, which is just wrong.

Father Boccaccio told us that the Christmas season really Christmas Treeends on the day that Jesus was baptized. That date varies from year to year, but it’s usually between January 9 and January 15. He insists that no Christmas trees or decorations can be taken down until that day. He threatens to make surprise visits to our homes to check that our decorations are still up after January 1, but we all know that he won’t visit, just like he knows that our trees will be long gone before the middle of January. If he does happen to show up, we’ll just lower our shades and cower in a corner until he leaves.

Now, back to those wise men. I’ve always had a problem with that story. Mary and Joseph were on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to register for Emperor Augustus’ mandatory census, when Jesus was born. Penalties for disobeying the emperor were undoubtedly stiff back then, so I imagine Joseph bundled Mary and Jesus up shortly after Jesus’ birth and hustled them off to the census bureau.

I don’t see them staying in a stable for 12 or 13 days. And even if the landlord did let them linger awhile, it probably took those wise men from the general area known as “the East” longer than 12 or 13 days to get there. They were following a star, and stars are only visible at night, so they would have had to take the days off to wait for nightfall … and to shop for gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

nativity_Depending on how far east they were, it could have taken them months, or years. But, if they were only a few miles east, they could have made it in time, star notwithstanding. However, nobody knows where they started from. I’ve heard stories that they showed up at Mary and Joseph’s house when Jesus was a toddler.
Then again, the accepted story is that they were definitely at the stable at the same time that Jesus and His parents were.

This reminds me of David Sedaris’ story about the six to eight black men who accompany Santa in Europe. He wondered why no one had gotten an accurate count over several centuries.* I personally wonder why the whole wise men story is so vague, when the other details of Jesus’ birth were documented so clearly.

Did the wise men reach the stable during the 12 to 13 days of Christmas? And why is the revised end of the Christmas season on the day of Jesus’ baptism — 30 years or so after His birth? The wise men had to have arrived by then, so I suppose that’s a safe date to use. Using that logic, however, we should never be allowed to take down our trees.

Wise Men




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