Friday, 20 October 2017

8 Real Haunted Houses Where You Can Stay The Night, If You Dare

For foodies, September kicks off pumpkin spice season, but for Halloween enthusiasts, the month before October begins a short duration of time dedicated to all things horror-themed. From books to movies to real-life attractions, fall is prime time for adrenaline levels to spike with fear, and if you thought staged hayrides and deep-rooted mazes gave you a thrill, there are a handful of haunted places to stay overnight sans actors and cheesy, overdone costumes that offer an authentic scare.

I’ve been a fan of haunted houses since I was a kid, and even though I will most likely end up clinging to any article of clothing I can grab onto with my clammy hands, or hovering behind the tallest, largest person in the group for “protection,” I cannot get enough of getting scared. Sitting through horror films, inhaling Stephen King novels, walking through high corn stalks at night, you name it, and I’m probably game. But, I’ve yet to check off an overnight stay at a haunted house from my Halloween-themed bucket list.

Haunted houses are legendary, and there are plenty around the country if you do your research. Here are a few overnight stays that promise paranormal encounters you can brag about to all your friends.

1. The Lizzie Borden House

The chilling ballad of Lizzie Borden is a classic, creepy sing-song that’s been stuck in my memory since childhood. Assuming you’re unfamiliar with the axe murderess, allow me.

Lizzie Borden took an axe,
gave her mother 40 whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
she gave her father 41.

Transforming her Massachusetts home into a bed and breakfast was, in my opinion, bloody brilliant. Though the actual murders date back to 1892, Lizzie clearly made quite the impression (and marketing ploy).

Visitors have the option to either spend the night, or they can rent a floor, or even the entire household, for parties, events, and paranormal assessments. You can also request to stay in Lizzie’s haunted suite if you’d like, but be warned, this humble abode shares a bathroom with the John Morse Room, aka where mommy dearest was murdered.

2. The Stanley Hotel

For those who dedicated the weeks running from September through October to burying their minds in thrillers, The Stanley Hotel is epic for horror enthusiasts looking to get a scare off the page.

Stephen King’s 1977 thriller was inspired by a stay at The Stanley Hotel with his wife Tabitha in 1947. To their surprise, the couple were the only two guests to stay over that fateful night.

King described his spooky, yet inspiring night at The Stanley Hotel,

I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a fire-hose. I woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed.

I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in a chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.

So, you in?

3. Prospect Hill Bed And Breakfast Inn

If you’re looking for a paranormal experience that’s a little more low-key (aka not downright terrifying), the ghosts at Prospect Hill Inn are said to be more playful than petrifying. Guests recall waking up to delicious aroma of muffins, peanut butter, and cookies, even smelling hints of a pleasant perfume in the air.

Of course, ghosts will be ghosts, so random, opening doors and the sound of footsteps are normal occurrences. According to the hotel’s official website, spirits are described as typical guests.

How’s that for co-existing?

4. The Historic Farnsworth House Inn

Taking into consideration just how much history looms in Gettsyburg, Pennsylvania, hauntings are practically expected.

The Farnsworth House Inn offers a ton of ghost walks and presentations to spook, but an overnight stay will also teach you a thing or two about this city’s haunted past.

From the East Cemetery Hill Walk to the Witching Hour Ghost Hunt, it’s safe to say you’ll be in for a seriously spooky stay here.

5. The Queen Mary

Who ever said spirits can’t enjoy the high seas, too?

Voted as one of the most haunted places in America by  magazine, Queen Mary docked on Dec. 9, 1967  in Long Beach, California, and has been a floating hotel ever since. Spirit sightings include a dearly departed sailor, “lady in white,” and children who drowned in the cruise ship’s pool.

Daytime tours are open to the public, but we all know everything gets way more interesting when the sun goes down. Guests can partake in paranormal tours at twilight, or spooky seances to encourage a little ghost activity before bed.

6. Villisca Axe Murder House

The best ghost stories are the messiest in my opinion, so if you’re a fan of fear, Villisca’s Ax Murder House is for you.

I normally wouldn’t piece together terror and the state of Iowa, but in June of 1912, two adults and six children were brutally murdered in their own beds, without a suspect to try for the violent crime.

To honor the victims and house the great mystery, Darwin and Martha Linn purchased the mansion in 1994, restoring the home from a vacant crime scene to a tourist attraction that to this day holds pain, great tragedy, and a lot of gruesome horror.

7. Lemp Mansion

Ready for some beer and boo? John Adam Lemp was a German native who came over to America in 1838, starting his life in the states as a grocer and eventually starting his own lager business. He died a millionaire, but you know what they say about money buying happiness (hint: it doesn’t).

The family’s demise is a collage of suicide, a decline in wealth, and liquidation, and apparently the ghosts of Lemp’s past continue to roam the mansion for guests to goggle at. Choose from haunted history and hunting tours to see what these spirits are really up to these days.

8. Captain Grant’s, 1754

Nothing says spooky quite like a cabin in the woods. Add a little history to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a ghostly gold mine.

Captain Grant’s historic inn stands cozy in between Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos, so if things get too freaky, at least you have a few escape options. The bed and breakfast is privy to spirits looking for a place to stay when their cemetery plot feels played out.

And the ownership and staff are aware of their otherworldly guests, offering a Talking With Spirits package that features a communication lesson connecting you with those who have yet to cross over.


5 things for Friday, February 3, 2017: Israel, Russia, Yemen

(CNN)Good morning. It’s the Friday before the Super Bowl. If you haven’t picked the team you’ll be rooting for come Sunday, you better get to it. Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door.

1. Israeli settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s got to be a little confused. All through the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump seemed to be OK with Israel’s move to expand its settlements in the West Bank. In just the first couple weeks of the Trump administration, Israel OK’d plans for 5,500 new housing units there in addition to building a brand new settlement. Then the White House seemed to do a 180 and said that expanding settlements beyond current borders “may not be helpful” in bringing about peace with the Palestinians, who along with the international community view the land the Israelis have settled in the West Bank as the home of a future Palestinian state. Maybe the prime minister and President can iron all of this out when Netanyahu visits the White House later this month.

    2. US and Russia

    An interesting trend is developing as the Trump administration gets up and running. The President takes a position on an issue, then members of Team Trump go out and publically take the opposite position. We saw it happen with waterboarding. Trump said he was all for it and other forms of torture; Defense Secretary James Mattis said, um, no. (The President said, That’s cool, you can override me on that one.) Now we’re seeing it on Russia. Trump’s friendly with Vladimir Putin, has refused to condemn Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election and hints he might want to recognize Russia’s annexation in Crimea. In her debut at the UN Security Council, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was having none of it. She blasted the Russians and said they need to get out of Crimea, which the rest of the world says is still part of Ukraine. So what did Haley’s boss think of her comments? We haven’t heard, but the White House was aware of her speech in advance. Explaining the US’ relationship with Russia is just one of many items on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s to-do list.

    3. Yemen raid

    It was a raid that killed an al Qaeda leader and left 13 other fighters dead. Valuable intelligence was recovered. But a lot went wrong in a SEAL Team 6 raid in Yemen over the weekend. One of the SEALs was killed, as were at least 10 civilians, including women and children. A $70 million Osprey helicopter was destroyed. It’s all getting a lot of scrutiny because it’s the first special operations raid authorized under President Trump (it was planned during the last months of the Obama administration) and could tell us a lot about how he’ll fight terrorism.

    4. Delaware prison

    There are lots of questions yet to be answered as officials sort out the 19-hour hostage drama which finally ended at a Delaware prison. The chaos left one corrections officer dead. How were inmates able to briefly take over one of the prison’s buildings? And how did Sgt. Steven Floyd die? Inmates forced him into a closet, but he warned other officers, who were rushing into the building, about what was about to go down. That saved lives, and Floyd is being hailed a hero. Three other corrections employees were also taken hostage, including a female counselor who was “shielded” and protected by some of the inmates. The standoff ended after authorities used a backhoe to breach the building.

    5. National parks

    We’re still in the grips of winter, but it’s not too early to start thinking about summer vacation plans. National parks are a surefire winner, but will the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and other beloved parks even be open now that President Trump’s put a hiring freeze on federal workers? The national parks need 8,000 seasonal and short-term temporary employees to get through the busy summer months. But an exemption to the hiring freeze has been granted. That means the Department of the Interior (which runs the parks service) will be able to bring in the help the parks need. Time to dust off the camping gear.


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    Thursday, 19 October 2017

    A letter to … my father, who I can’t stand to be around when he’s drunk

    The letter you always wanted to write

    I always felt foolish saying the words: “My father is an alcoholic.” You really weren’t drinking that much, but when you were drunk and started ranting – at society and incompetent politicians, at everything that annoyed you – my skin prickled with fear and all I wanted was to run away: from you, from a home that felt unsafe, from the verbal abuse and the threat of physical violence that never broke out, but which filled our flat like a vile smell.

    A little later, your marriage breaks down, and I leave for university. Over the course of almost eight years, our relationship changes. You visit every so often, but I still hate to be around you when you get drunk. My boyfriend watches you drink two litres of beer with a single meal, then drive a car. He’s incredulous.

    I’m glad you’re part of my life, but I worry about you almost non-stop. You get diagnosed with diabetes; patches of your skin turn black. One morning not so very long ago, I stand at a bus stop and listen to some music. My phone picks a shanty-song about a bunch of Vikings attending the funeral of a friend, a sad song that you like a lot. Without warning, a brutal thought cracks into my head: if you keep going the way you are, I will have to play this song for your funeral in a few years.

    Then, one lazy Saturday morning just before I was due to go away for a few weeks, the phone rings – it’s you. You’re very composed and tell me: “I’m at the hospital. Please don’t worry.” I sit bold upright, thinking: “What has the alcohol done to you now?” My heart beats like a drum, but I manage to understand what you tell me. You have decided to stop drinking. A few days ago, you admitted yourself to a detox programme.

    I’m dumbstruck. A few minutes later, my boyfriend finds me crying uncontrollably with relief and the bottled-up pain of being the daughter of an alcoholic for many years. Two days later, I visit you in the clinic. I need to see you before I leave for my trip and tell you that I will support you.

    Since then, our relationship has healed. I got to know the man you really are: kind and considerate, intelligent, a joy to talk to, a rock to turn to when life gets tumultuous. We became friends. You rekindled your relationship with your first daughter, and recently, I met my half-sister and her family for the first time.

    I can hardly believe how well things have turned out. Sometimes, that makes me sad. I wonder what my life could have been like, growing up with you for a father, instead of with the man that let alcohol strip away all the goodness from him.

    It has been over a year since you stopped drinking, and I am proud of you beyond words. And yet, there are moments when I feel as if I am living in a dream. A part of me still mistrusts our newfound happiness and wonders, what if it doesn’t last? What if, some day, I call you and the old aggressiveness is back, the old impatience to find something to drink, the old dismissiveness of almost everyone but you? I’m scared of that day. How I would cope with the pain of losing you, I cannot tell.

    Please don’t take yourself away from me again.

    Yours, loving, your daughter.


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    Wednesday, 18 October 2017

    ‘Burning Man for the 1%’: the desert party for the tech elite, with Eric Schmidt in a top hat

    Two Buildings Were Having an All-Out Post-It War Until This Happened

    It all began with a simple “hi” (6th floor, 3 windows from the left). An employee at Harrison and Star at 75 Varick Street in New York city put up the innocent greeting, not knowing if anyone would respond.

    Photograph by Paul Vinod (@Vinvox)

    Shortly thereafter a “Sup” appeared from the building across the street at 200 Hudson.

    Both buildings in the Tribeca neighborhood boast a number of marketing and media agencies as their tenants and it didn’t take long for everyone to get in on the action.

    Photograph by u/craftBK

    Photograph by u/craftBK

    Photograph by u/craftBK

    Photograph by u/craftBK

    Photograph by u/craftBK

    Photograph via AdWeek

    Photograph via New York Post

    Horizon Media, Cake Group, Biolumina, Harrison and Star, Getty Images and Heartbeat Ideas all got in on the action. The agencies of 200 Hudson and 75 Varick were in an all out war. Even the Post-It manufacturer, 3M, got involved; supplying free Post-It notes for both buildings.

    And then one night, under the cover or darkness, Havas Worldwide ended the battle in one fell swoop.

    Photograph by u/FUNKYDISCO

    According to the building supervisor for Havas Worldwide, a few of the company’s graphic designers rendered the building and laid out exactly how the giant “mic drop” should be placed in each window pane.

    Then a group of co-workers stayed late one night with beer and pizza and executed the design floor by floor. Sadly, the building managers were not as impressed and have ordered a ceasefire and told all participants to have everything taken down by this weekend.

    Photograph by u/craftBK

    Photograph by u/craftBK

    Photograph by u/FUNKYDISCO


    Behold, The Most Trumpian Statement Of The Election Yet

    Donald Trump’s ego has no bounds.

    He is the Earth. He is the Sun. He is therefore the source of energy for the hops and barley used to brew beer. It is only with such airtight reasoning that one would take credit for the fact that Budweiser is planning to rename its eponymous beer “America” from May 23 through the election in November.

    But that’s what the presumptive Republican presidential nominee did when he phoned into Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” on Wednesday morning, setting up one of the most Trumpian statements of the election yet:

    The marketing ploy does, however, resemble some of Trump’s brazen tactics. The brash businessman regularly bashes Mexico and China while selling garments produced there, for example.

    And Budweiser isn’t even owned by an American company anymore; Anheuser-Busch, its brewer, is now owned by Belgium-based company InBev.

    Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.