Saturday, November 23, 2013

Celebrating the Time Lord's Genesis: A Review of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special Episode

Today's theme song is The Doctor's Theme/Next Stop Everywhere

        After a long and agonizing wait, the day finally arrives.  It's not just any old day.  School day, business day, the Sabbath?  No, not at all!  A birthday?  Well, yes, for Chris Hardwick (Happy Birthday, nerd bro!), but that's not the point!  Today belongs to a science fiction icon.  It's named after him, and, fittingly enough, it lands on his favorite day of the week!
       For today (Saturday, November 23, 2013) is actually.....


       Exactly 50 years ago today, a science fiction program named Doctor Who was born, the brainchild of Sydney Newman, which then grew up, died and regenerated over 12 (going on 13 times--John Hurt's War Doctor counts!) faces!  It gave a new definition to innocence, danger, time and space, and especially danger.  And so, to celebrate, I'm doing my usual REVIEW!  What else would I be doing?

Actually, it's 2 reviews in one blog post, one being spoiler-free for the people who have yet to watch this epic episode, and the other is for the ones who already watched it or just don't give a fuck.

So here we go, the review that I actually wrote down during the episode, which means that it's my real-time in the moment reaction to the special.

Spoiler-Free Review

       Huh. :O Oooh!  LOL!  Oh my gosh!  SQUEE!  Le gasp!  I want that Moment box--or a replica of it!  LOL again!  Ooooh!!  Whoa.  BWAHHHH!!!!!  Hahaheeheehee!  HA!  ROFL!  So that's where that came from....  EEWWW!  OH SHIT!  Heh!  ROFL, round things!  SQUEEGASM!  Little giggle.....  Aww!  Huge squeal!  WHOOOOAAAAAA!!!!!  Meta squee!  Le gasp!  Jaw drop!

       And of course, NERDING MY PANTS!  SUPER AWESOME!

       Now, for the more detailed review--so SPOILER ALERT!


Actual Review With Some Spoilers

       Well, if you've already seen it, congratulations!  Together, throughout 94 countries across 6 continents, we Whovians have all recreated the climax of Last of the Time Lords!  (Series 3, with David Tennant and Freema Agyeman)  Nothing can be more meta than that!

       Anyways, I was quite fortunate to watch it during that very broadcast at 2:50pm EST with my parents!  And to be honest, we were quite surprised to see that they used the old Doctor Who opening to kick off the transmission!  It was quite a sweet tribute!  And then, we have Clara, back to normal--I think.  How the HELL did the Doctor get her from that little temporal bubble thing where she passes out and he carries her away?  How did they get out of that?!  I'm more confused than a skunk on a black-and-white tiled floor!
       Thanks, Moffat, for that little plothole!

       But now, we've got John Hurt's War Doctor (who supposedly did something drastic to the race of the Time Lords), Doctor Tennant and Doctor Smith gallavanting about together!  What nerd wouldn't dream of that?!  And when we saw Tennant and Smith interacting with each other, pulling out the sonic screwdrivers and saying the same things at the same time, we were giggling and laughing.  And it made sense, knowing that they are the same person from different points in time!  Though, I've always dreamed how it would be: will they bicker at each other?  Will they have their companions meet each other?  Obviously, the companions never met, so, oh well.....

       But so many questions were answered, and if you've seen The Big Bang (Series 5 with Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill), make sure that you brace yourself: a similar bit of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing is going on, and it could be a little....bendy-wendy?  Not to mention that you could get headaches from that craziness, so make sure you have some painkillers on hand.

       The Daleks are also back, but they don't have a very strong presence in the story, despite the sheer size of the army attacking Gallifrey; they were more of a phantom threat, in a sense.  Like, they were a problem to be solved later on.  And has anyone noticed how it was the old Dalek casings?  This is, obviously, due to the Time War taking place long before Victory of the Daleks, which is where they get regenerated with the help of a progenator.  Oh well, my condolences to my Dalek tweeps!

       But seriously, to have the synchronicity going on between the three Doctors (three-fold man from Journey's End, anyone?) is quite clever, and awesome, and it just really tickles your nerd bits!

      I enjoyed Billie Piper as the sentient interface for The Moment, and she did really, really well!  She's got talent, that's for sure; I saw her in Shakespeare Retold's Much Ado About Nothing.  But the outfit--FANTABULOUS!  Though the ugly boots could be replaced with some badass ones.....  But it's still awesome enough to wear to a con!

      So, to catch a ride with the Doctor, the Doctor and the War Doctor was certainly fun.  I'm sure my parents enjoyed it almost as much as I did.  And a ton of questions that were raised by the trailer (How many Doctors were there really?  What was the red jewel thing? [A BIG RED BUTTON!]  And what really happened to Gallifrey?)  Not to mention that having a little meta moment going on, with Doctor Tennant speaking to Doctor Smith--major tearjerking moment there for me, because I still miss Doctor Tennant!  And lastly, you can't help but really nerd your pants, especially with all of the Doctors in one place together, looking at Gallifrey at the same time.  I enjoyed it!  I really did, and I hope that sometime soon, the series will take us to Gallifrey (again, for all the more experienced Whovians).

      Oh, and there's a surprise guest in the episode!  Thank you Tom Baker for making the episode extra meta by taking up your role again!  But I'm still waiting on that 4-foot TARDIS cake!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Review of The Hunger Games Trilogy--Part 1: The Hunger Games

Your theme music--the entire soundtrack for the movie! :D

            I understand that I haven't posted many reviews lately but I had yet to decide on a topic….  And I figured that it's time for yet another book review.  But this one I had to word carefully.  I don't want to seem like an anarchist, a communist, a fascist, a Nazi (I'm only a Grammar Nazi, not the other kind…) or anything else by choosing my words poorly, just to have people take it way out of context.  I've had to even do research for this review.

            But I have to say something about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which is the first book in a trilogy that examines a futuristic society that doesn't exactly force absolute perfection, but rather more along the lines of production from the impoverished Districts of Panem that sprouted from the ruins of the United States, whose products only serve the wealthy people in the Capitol.  It has been a mega-hit all over the States as a book, only to explode again as a film.  And seeing that I have two pieces of media that share the same name, I've decided to review them both here.  As for the next two installments, I'll share my expectations for the film adaptations.  I should also issue a SPOILER ALERT for those of you who have yet to either read the book (which should be first) and see the film (which should be second).

            And now, the review:

The Hunger Games: The Book

            There have been many texts throughout recorded history that have forced us to think, to consider, to look at ourselves or our ancestors in a mirror, to see what society can do to mankind, to an outsider…  Hell, I can guesstimate that about one-third of those texts have earned a spot on the Banned Book List.  But it's only recently that The Hunger Games have received such a response, mostly from me.  When I was reading it, I can picture a society that not only advanced towards the future but also held onto the barbarism of ancient history, especially the fights between Gladiators at the Roman Coliseum, where people fight to the death.  I think I should also note that, throughout history, death was also an event, where masses of people would attend an execution by hanging and make a party or picnic out of it.  Idaho State Penitentiary, that once housed many inmates but is now a dwelling for ghosts to haunt, was once such place, where the hangings were held in the courtyard and people would climb the hillside that neighbors the prison just to watch; they would even bring their children.  And speaking of which, the Hunger Games seems to echo that grotesquely gory film Battle Royal (Japanese edition--NSFAWHVAG, Not Safe For Anyone Who Hates Violence And Gore, in addition to NSFW and NSFK--Not Safe for Kids), where kids were forced to fight for their own survival or be killed.

            But anyways…to have that blend really strikes a chord with me; not only do I hate having kids kill other kids, but to force some to kill when they're as young as 12 years old.  12 FUCKING YEARS OLD!  They shouldn't have to face death or take another kid's life like that; but they are forced to, for the entertainment of the Capitol citizens.  Victory promises food, supplies and wealth for the winner's family and District; losing meant certain death.  And the Hunger Games were certainly the most fearful event that the District citizens have to face.  That line, "May the odds be ever in your favor"?  It's interesting: the odds are only in your favor if you are not chosen to be the Tribute, the child warrior forced to fight for survival; if you were chosen, the odds would diminish greatly, as you have 1 in 24 chance of winning, which basically means you have a 4.2%  chance of surviving--a 95.8% guarantee of being slaughtered while your family, friends and District is forced to watch you die; if you train well, it'll decrease enough for you to survive for a significant amount of time, but you'll still wind up dying anyways.

            As soon as I finished reading the book, I can see that Panem does not only exist in this text or off in the future; it's already here.  I can see that all the first-world countries (people with wealth, especially) are represented in the Capitol of Panem, with all the second- and third-world countries being the outlying Districts.  Why should we let those "Districts" suffer?  We're practically hoarding the wealth.  In fact, I may be living well beneath the poverty line here, but I'm still doing quite fine: I've got a roof over my head, clothes, food, running water, electricity, etc.  But why can't the millionaires and billionaires simply downgrade their lives, while keeping security top-notch?  They can afford it, especially after selling all those expensive cars and homes off!  Why not allow people a decent life?  I'm not saying, "FORCE THE ENGLISH LIFESTYLE ONTO THE AMISH!" at all--I'd never say that, especially since it'd go against their religious beliefs!  But why can't we give a part of the life, as in the life we the people in the wealthy Capitol countries have every day, to the ones who need it desperately, like those who don't have medical treatments readily available or food to those who are starving every single day, each day more painful than the last.

            To be honest, I enjoyed reading it; to see the insane future we face if capitalism went out of control (aristocracy, bitches!) through the eyes of someone forced into this "entertainment", read "annual televised execution of innocent children that reminds people who is in control."  Suzanne Collins really did well with writing, using the best descriptions that I can only dream of using.  Her depiction of Bush-era America may be a little extreme, but I like it because it's the kind of reality check people need, in order to see how evil and shitty our society can become.  I hope that it doesn't get banned; if it does, it should be a badge of honor because it really shakes people, rather become than a mark of shame made out of the denial that certain people prefer to drown themselves in instead of feeling the emotional shock that comes with being bitchslapped by a significant dystopian novel, the only kind of novel whose film counterpart broke box office records that weekend.

The Hunger Games--The Feature Film

            If anyone can take a book from inside a population's head, make it one uniformed visual experience, and put it onto a screen JUST to have people say, "THAT'S what it looks like, for sure!", it's Gary Ross.  He made the book into a film that I consider to be unlike any other.  He transformed the novel into what seems to be a fraternal twin to the novel, similar yet still different.  For one, certain scenes were omitted, probably for time constraints and because too many details will make the overall plot convoluted and laggy.  But they made the point of not having a voice-over of Katniss' internal dialogue; it really is good for a first-person point of view novel, but not for a movie that fits into multiple genres: it's a dystopian-action-war-gladiator flick!  Not to mention that Ross just went and made the film less dependent on the book, with its cutaway scenes to the Games control rooms, its ways of conveying messages of "it might be dramatic violence, but it's still a contest, with people abhorrently betting on the lives of minors," and "people are emotionally invested in surviving, not just physically," and "the Capitol is the real villain here, not the contestants."

            I'd like to praise Gary Ross' decision to omit sound during that first fight scene when all the Tributes started slaughtering each other; I agree that it's mostly visual, that it has a major emotional impact, that there's some sort of detachment in that moment, etc, but I'd like to add more praise from the view of people who have certain disabilities.  I believe that if there were sounds added to that fight scene, it'd be overwhelming, far too overwhelming for people who suffer from sensory overload from time to time (I'm not exempt from this Autistic Spectrum Disorder trait; I mostly blame my smartass hearing aids who actually amplify the loudest sound there is at the time--meaning sirens and smoke alarm beepings and things like that, and it winds up being all that I hear, so it frightens and overwhelms me, to the point where I now remove my hearing aids and cover my ears until it all passes; similarly, when someone whistles near me, I give them looks that should punch them in the face and shout, "STOP WHISTLING!"… *slaps self for squirreling too much on the one topic*  Sorry, guys, train of thought took a longer detour…) so it'd be far too much for us peeps with ASDs to deal with.  And what about people who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorders?  They'll suffer from the audio + video double whammy combo and flip out, and if they can't handle the video, they can just close their eyes.  So, yeah, it benefits multiple people.

            The book really fed interest into the movie, and vice versa, which I've never really heard of; normally, it's films just based on the book, like it's the foundation of the film--an issue you can see with the Harry Potter movies and the Twilight saga.  But to have it stand as a reflection of the novel really just piqued a lot of interest.

            I especially love the design of the set, the atmosphere, some of the Capitol-style clothing.  If there are any real-life versions of these costumes, I'd love to have them!  And no, please, no cheap knock-offs and cheap takes on certain outfits (like what I saw at Party City--I mean, really!  Take pride in your work, not make a design that allows you to mass-manufacture it!), because these garments cannot simply be faint shadows of the costume itself.  I'd rather feel I am a less-than flamboyant resident of the Capitol, rather than a cheap copycat.  And who the HELL made the furniture in the training tower suite?!  They just have to be my interior designers!  It really conveyed the whole idea of "This is Panem, these are the Districts, this is the Capitol, this is the Arena."  Really well done, guys!  I'd give the design and aesthetic an A+!

            As a for warning those of you people who have yet to see the film but already read the book:  It's definitely different, so don't expect the crew to have it done exactly the same as the novel.  There are going to be scenes missing and items that are different, so try not to nitpick.  Rather, let the interpretation guide you through a similar path of the story, one where you can still experience Katniss' terror, yet  be able to look at what's happening in the background.

            All in all, the book is a must-read, and the film is a must-see. 8.7 stars out of 10!

            P.S. HOLY SHIT!  I didn't expect Cinna to look like an alternate reality version of LENNY MASTER-BATING KRAVITZ!  *FLAILS*

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm Alive, I'm Part-Hipster, and I Might Just Go Anyways

Here's some theme music--It's "Alive" by Empire of the Sun

Part 1

            Oh my God, Oh my Davros, Oh my Loki, Oh my Thor!

            What the HELL was I thinking with that last post?!  I was so goddamn upset I vented at you, at Mom and Dad, at the physical world basically.

            And after thinking back on it, I came to a realization that is just ridiculous.

(Complete with hipster shirt!)

            My parents are saying, "Go check with the awesome hotel we're staying in!"  Which, by the way, looks awesome!  It's made of suites, dudes!  SUITES!  It's like Residence Inn but more bedrooms and Tempurpedic beds!  Not to mention I checked out a mobile version of their website, where it says that they have bikes we could borrow for free, full kitchens in the suites, free off-street parking, and that we're steps from the awesome side of Pittsburgh!  We can cook, I'll have my own bedroom in the suite (two bedroom suites, bro!  That's fancy for me!  But I think it's more for my parents than it is for me…) and there's a flat-screen television set there!  But at this rate (which, at the time of my typing this part, is Monday 4:33 AM EST), I don't know the whole story, so I'm just drafting these parts up as I research what is going to happen and make calls to my sibling to see what her plans are for that Saturday.  We might just be able to see it in theaters, which means we would need adult diapers for all the pants-pissing brick-shitting nerdgasms from experiencing awesome epic bacon jizzing in the theater.

            Anyways, for now, I must sleep so that I may have a clear head for calling the hotel and asking questions (which is still a wall I'm struggling with), and then get groceries, laundry money, and my ass to the library.  Until then, LOOK ALIVE AND EXCELSIOR!

Part 2

            I sent an email today, basically doing what Mom would tell me to do (“JUST CALL THEM!”) but via email. It didn’t help that @NotGayDalek had to affirm my fears of channels not being available in hotels with this tweet, so it’s best if I ask. Basically it consists of the following:
Hi, um, if I were to stay at your hotel, would I be able to receive the channels BBCAmerica and Travel Channel on your televisions? It's kind of very important to me.

And since it’s a Ghost Adventures weekend (EVERY WEEKEND!) and Toonami Saturday, I won’t be able to catch much of it.  At all, if ever, and that doesn’t include that Jay Wasley, sound guy to the Ghost Adventures Crew, didn’t have access to the Travel Channel at his hotel when he attended Parafest.  Basically, you won’t get answers if you don’t ask questions…

Part 3

            I HAVE GOOD NEWS TODAY! (Which is Tuesday, November 12, 2013.)  I got an email reply back from the hotel people I’m staying at and THIS IS WHAT IT SAYS!
Re: ******: Channel Selection in the Suites
Hello, Ms. Pyrithea
Thank you for emailing!  As a guest, you would be able to view BBCAmerica and The Travel Channel.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Sincerely,(name censored)Asst. General Manager

So, I will most certainly be going, and holding a viewing party in the suite, if we haven’t already decided to attend the theater showing!  Also, I’m censoring the name of the place I’ll be staying at until I do my review of the place which will post AFTER leaving!  Thank you to the hotel!

To be honest, I would’ve gone just to stay in the hotel anyways, and to see my grandfather who has been dealing with illness again.  He needs to take better care of himself, but at least it’s one more Thanksgiving meal with him.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

The World Will End Without BBCAmerica In Every Hotel Across the United States (alternatively Dear Internetz and Parents of Whovians)

            My apologies for giving a ranty post more directed towards my parents and a couple of friends who care about me than doing a "Hey, Whovians!  Check this out!" kind of post.  Here's some theme music....

            In case you haven't heard, there will be a giant global television event that takes place November 23, 2013 at 2:50pm EST, where one major special episode of Doctor Who will be simultaneously broadcast on television in a shit ton of countries.  But let's take a moment to objectively analyze this particular moment.


            Seriously, since when is it okay to just say, "Oh, that's nice," then wait for the next time it happens when basically, each moment itself cannot be revisited without a TARDIS or time-traveling Delorean?  Those of us who are not time travelers have to live life in a single straight line.  Which means those people (me being one of them) should avoid traveling or working away from a television set that gets a channel that will air Day of the Doctor during that very moment.  I wish that it's easier to explain but it isn't.  Basically, who are you to say, "You'll be fine, it's just a TV show," when I'll practically be an emotional Aspie OCDing wreck holed up in a hotel room cursing everything living and dead and real and imaginary the moment I realize I'll be completely missing that episode?  I will NOT be fine!  I understand that it will be repeated, I really do (but I very highly doubt that anyways), but it's like the royal wedding of the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge: you either watch it, or you don't and curse yourself for missing it.

            "Did you say hotel room?"  Yes, I'll be traveling through three-dimensional space in my territory on Earth to visit my sister and her boyfriend, and then my grandparents in a pocket of Virginia I consider to be part of my territory, and according to my parents, we'll be leaving the day before the epic event airs, and we won't be back until November 30th.  Which is basically my parents' way of saying, "FUCK YOUR PLANS!  WE CONTROL YOUR LIFE!" in a subtle way.  And that's yet another reason for me to hate them, which I'll add to my mental list of "Why the Hell Are You Still Hovering Over My Shoulder?"

            I know you're wondering why I'm being so anal with my watch-it-or-go-fuck-yourself attitude.  I like to think of it as a real-life version of that episode with David Tennant and Freema Agyeman and John Barrowman of that last part of that story arc (SPOILER ALERT!) where the Master managed to take over the world and Freema's character Martha managed to get everyone in the world to think "Doctor" at the same time in order to overthrow him.  It's like that only everyone gets to put everything down and watch this episode together in that one moment and enjoy it.  It's about world peace, bro, and anyone who says otherwise is a clueless git.

            This isn't an episode you just put off for the future (much like the Transylvania Halloween special the Ghost Adventures Crew did ON Halloween!  Epic birthday present!).  I mean, come on!  Look at it!

Open your eyes, reader.

You do not just watch that trailer and say, "Hey, let's ignore it and go on a trip!" You reschedule everything so it does not go against your being able to watch it, you prepare generators that will fire up as soon as the power goes out, you get food ready and eaten with bathroom breaks taken well before it airs.  And it's not up for debate either; you'll be yelling at your kids to shut the fuck up and watch it with you because the Doctor out-ranks whatever teen "sensation" they're into (yeah, the Doctor is more important than Bieber, Black, Gomez, and Katy Perry combined!) and it'll save lives, it'll cure cancer, or whatever other claims I have to make up to get you to watch it!

            I expect great things to come from this episode; understand, there have been flops before, which gave some nerds reason to send hate tweets to Stephen Moffat, who then left twitter because of all the hate.  I expect to learn the reason behind the Valeyard's reappearance in the Whoniverse, I expect to know why Doctor version number 10 will be back in the TARDIS, and I half-expect to learn the Doctor's real name.  I also expect that everything goes right because goddammit, I'm scared that I'll never be able to catch it thanks to some curse or whatever.

            Yes, I'm scared.  I'm scared that the power will go out as soon as I catch a glimpse of the episode.  I'm scared that something will happen and it will become one of the Lost Episodes of Doctor Who (a couple of which were actually found quite recently).  I'm serious, I also don't want spoilers on Twitter.  I've been a situation like this before, with The Angels Take Manhattan (which is the last episode Amy and Rory Pond were ever in) and all the damn black cube accounts were spoiling the goddamn episode.  I asked them politely not to spoil it because there are viewers who have yet to view it, and one idiot just replied with, "Oh, well, then just don't be on Twitter."  I utterly blocked that idiot and several others who mindlessly spoiled that episode (one of them being a River Song account I believe I roleplayed with), and I didn't look back until now.  So how can I avoid Twitter and the spoilers for an entire week?  I can't!  Seriously, take a look at my Twitter feed (which I've added to this blog as a widget--you're welcome).  I tend to tweet about almost everything.

            So, to avoid Whovians like myself not being an emotional homicidal wreck, I implore the American hotel owners to add BBCAmerica to the list of channels guests can access in the hotel rooms, I ask for no spoilers if I miss it, I beg of my sister and her boyfriend to fucking get digital cable already so we can watch it together, and I plan on having my grandparents tape it just in case my family has the "brilliant" (read: utterly stupid) idea to not ever watch it.  And for God's sake, if you ever say, "It's just a TV show," to me one more time, I'll wind up feeling stabby with a mechanical pencil.

P.S., Thought you should leave with a light hearted feeling.... here's some twitter fun....

P.P.S. And here's a lolcat!

       Doctor Who's Day of the Doctor will air November 23 at 2:50pm EST on BBCAmerica.
Be sure to #SaveTheDay.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Real-Life Paranormal Adventures: Candlelight Ghost Tours Rock!

I'm sorry I wasn't able to post over Halloween; to be honest, my parents kidnapped me for my birthday (which really IS on Halloween!) and for All Saints Day; for Halloween, we went to a pub and a fro-yo shop, then that Friday, I went shopping with them and got a shit ton of clothes for my growing wardrobe....which now includes white!  How terrifying is THAT?!

Anyways, to continue on with my intended topic, I have here for you this blog entry's theme music!

            In case you haven't noticed yet (and you'd be stupid not to), I'm a big fan of the paranormal and paranormal investigation shows on the telly, especially Ghost Adventureson the Travel Channel; and Haunted Collector, Fact or Faked Paranormal Files, Stranded, and Destination Truth on SyFy (not to mention Ghost in the Shell, a series that is a staple on the Toonami circuit!  But that's anime…).  I also make sure to add to my personal collection a selection of books about the paranormal, such as Dark World by Zak Bagans, Chasing Spirits by Nick Groff (both of which I've mentioned before), Bethlehem Ghosts by Katherine Ramsland & Dana DeVito, and I plan on adding more, providing that my budget would allow it.  I've tweeted about it, watched it, learned about it, attended a convention for it, and now, I've taken a tour to learn more about certain locations that are in the area.

            Mind you, I'm not saying whether I do live in the Bethlehem, PA area; I could be living as far south as Philadelphia, or as far west as Huntington, WV, or as far north as Scranton, PA.  All of these cities, my fellow Daleks, are within my territory, so extermination must have special permission obtained from me.  With that said, I am familiar with the Bethlehem area, especially the oldest continuously operating (indie) book store in the country (and perhaps the world) known as Moravian Book Shop, who does the Historic Haunts of Downtown Bethlehem candlelit walking tour that runs every Halloween season, a tour I highly recommend for people who don't mind carrying around hot wax sticks of fire while walking for upwards of 2 miles for about 50 minutes to an hour, with moments of standing around, listening to the history of the specific locations and different unexplained experiences of specific locations in and near the historic district of Bethlehem, PA.  Not only that, people were encouraged to take photos on the tour to see what they could capture!  So here are a couple of locations (not all of them; this blog entry is not a substitute for the actual tour, which generates some amazing business), with a description of the history and activity that has been experienced there (as I remember how it's told).

Brethren House

            This was the first stop of the tour, and rightfully so; this building that was built to house the single males in the Moravian community, it is the third(?) building of Bethlehem, and it's definitely haunted.  Currently property of Moravian College, it is a place for the Art, Graphics and Music students of the college to learn and practice their studies.  It has served as a hospital for the Revolutionary War soldiers.  Mind you, the Moravians who originally settled Bethlehem are against war but they understood the importance of the American Revolution, so they allowed Brethren House to be temporarily converted to a hospital for thousands of the wounded; the problem with this location being a hospital was the overcrowding, so there were a lot of patients having to be treated out on the street.  Of the thousands that were moved there, about 400-600 (approximately) of those soldiers died immediately.  That's not really a good sign, but we still won the war, with the added bonus of having General George Washington setting foot in that building!  SQUEE!
            The paranormal activity that reportedly took place in that building include footsteps in one of the stairwells there, that a "woman in white" that many believe to be a nurse was sighted there, and at one point, a music student practicing piano was getting ready to leave when the piano itself started playing again, with nobody at the keys!  If anything, I suggest very small groups (maximum of 4 or 5) be allowed in here to investigate (with permission from the college, of course) and share their evidence with the college.  I'd also love to take a look of the place, see if I can't dig up my own evidence.

God's Acre

            The Moravians didn't fear death; they weren't excited about it and look forward to it, but they accepted death as a part of life, so they didn't spare their children from it, much like the Amish would at funerals.  In fact, Moravian Academy's school buildings practically surround this particular graveyard where many historic graves are located, all laying flat on the ground as memorials to the dead.  "Wait, flat on the ground?"  Yes, flat.  You see, the members of the Moravian community believed in equality in life and in death; it doesn't matter what color you were, what status you had, whether you were single or married, etc., because you were equal to each other, especially in God's eyes.  So, to continue that equality past a person's life, they would have the graves flat on the ground, so that not one person is "above" another in death.  (I believe that the Cemetery Renaissance sort of eclipsed this practice with the rise of garden cemeteries and monuments that reflect Gothic, Grecian and Egyptian styles.)  What's also interesting with this particular site is that in one corner of the land lies the final resting place of a chief of a Native American tribe.  And yes, this cemetery is haunted; but not just "haunted," but rather FUCKING haunted!

            You see, plenty of people have captured photographic evidence of paranormal phenomenon and electronic voice phenomena (EVPs or spirit voices recorded on audio recorders that you have not heard when the actual recording took place) within this location.  Author Katherine Ramsland investigated this cemetery at one point, along with her accompanying companion Pat, who claimed to have psychic abilities (like a medium), were in this particular cemetery when Pat saw a girl looking at them and having trouble with speaking, as if something's wrong with her throat.  The girl was sighted near her own grave, which was near a tree she would be seen peeking from behind.  Another bit included an EVP captured on a tour lead by a local historian named Natalie; the EVP that was recorded there by a member of the Pennsylvania Paranormal Society who was in the group she was leading was a very clear Class A (clear tone, awesome volume) female voice that said in a polite, assertive tone, "Leave, please."  Other evidence includes awesome photographs of a smoky mist that looks like it is coming out of one of the graves.

The Colonnade

            If you're into the paranormal that can be violent, this place is for you!  And when I say violent, I mean violently ill, violent poltergeist tantrums, extremely rapid temperature changes, etc.  The building used to be a nightclub known as The Colonnade (the first ever nightclub in Bethlehem!), which, somehow, was allowed to continue serving alcohol during Prohibition, due to some of its patrons being the mayor, the Governor of the time, heads of Bethlehem Steel (which had a lot of pull even then), but it closed down in the 1930s or 1940s after a janitor found the body of a woman bludgeoned to death on a couch in one of the basement rooms.  The investigation into this homicide wasn't very thorough; at the time, the most advanced forensic technique was the polygraph--a lie-detector test.  The investigators brought in everyone who was there the night before and administered the test; shockingly (for us peeps nowadays) everybody passed.  Going on those results, the investigators ruled the death an "accident," and closed the case.  Which begs the question…WHAT THE FUCK?!  How can a woman be "accidentally" bludgeoned to death while laying on the couch?  To this very day, the case is unsolved, which is probably why the activity is so strongly negative.
            Even though the parties stopped, the building is still in use, currently occupied by a certain bank I shall call Hells' Fargo.  (The choice of pseudonym is not coincidental.)  And because it's owned and run by Hells' Fargo (with a Bethlehem Police training center you can enter around the side), nobody is allowed to simply go in to the basement and "poke around".  But I've heard that the activity there includes extreme temperature changes where it can drop or rise 50 degrees in seconds.  Other activity, like I said, is the poltergeist "temper tantrum" where, if you exit the room, and then re-enter it later, everything is thrown about, like contents of drawers dumped out onto the floor, items that were previously on the tables would be found strewn about the room.  And yes, employees would refuse to enter that room and avoid it at all costs.  But like I said, it's near impossible to investigate here; you'll have to pull a lot of strings to get that privilege.

The Sun Inn

            Cut across Guetter St. on the southern side of Broad, head down the tunnel past The Underground Lair (to whom I've waved while passing--Yays!), cut across the right side of the courtyard, and you'll reach the "backstreet side" of the historic Sun Inn.  This was the Ritz of the 1760s and 70s!  It had running water well before any of the residences in Bethlehem!  Anyone who's anyone would've loved to stay here!  Not only was it the northern most point of Bethlehem way back then, it also hosted historical figures such as General George Washington, Martha Washington, John Adams, and multiple generals of the Revolutionary War!  It currently serves as a living history museum nowadays, and also seems to play host to a restaurant (I believe).  They also allow ghost hunts to take place, and multiple paranormal groups have investigated there.
            This place was seen on SyFy's Ghost Hunters for a Christmas episode, when The Atlantic Paranormal Society (aka TAPS, and it was before Grant Wilson left) was called to the place to investigate; they did and they managed to catch evidence of the spirit of a little girl who haunts the place!  Most often, people would feel the hand of a small child in their hair.  Other experiences include EVPs (which have been caught by Mark and Debby Constantino of, and Brian and Jason of Haunted Collector; they just recently investigated this place as part of a special sold out ghost hunt that took place during Parafest 2013!  I'LL GET IN NEXT YEAR, BOYS!) that not only has the voice of a little girl, but also cursing and yelling.  Yeah, how can little sweet girls (and perhaps boys) curse?  It might not be them cursing, because the Sun Inn's basement was a jail for prisoners of war!  Yes, POWs, and at one point, the tour guide I had (who's a dude who was wearing a kilt!  FUCK YEAH!) actually went in during a ghost hunt to the basement, and he felt unwelcome there, like he didn't belong, almost as if he was trespassing.  According to a psychic who was also there, he actually reminded the spirits of the POWs of one of their jailers, so they wanted him out!  This certifiably haunted living history museum is a definite must-do on any paranormal investigators' list.  (Yes, I once saw that it was certified as haunted.  How cool is that?!)

The Historic Hotel Bethlehem

            Across Main St. from the Moravian Book Shop and Hand Cut Crystal shop is one of the most expensive yet incredible hotels I've ever heard about: Hotel Bethlehem (where I've had to tell some people why 25 men and women--half of them dressed as witches--were standing outside the hotel with lit candles and gathered around a man in a kilt telling about the history of the building they were entering).  And yes, this place is haunted!  It sits on the site of the first ever structure in the "little town of Bethlehem", which was torn down in 1823 to provide space for the Eagle Hotel; but in 1923, that hotel was eclipsed, too, in order to be replaced by the hotel that is here today, Hotel Bethlehem.  It was built by the president of Bethlehem Steel, Charles M. Schwab, and is most certainly haunted.  Its predecessor played host to many different people, including May Yohé, whose father worked extensively in order to send her off to Europe.  She was quite the prominent film actress of the time, and after touring around Europe for a time, she settled down in England and married Lord Henry Francis Hope, and was (I believe to be) the first to wear the famous Hope Diamond; but she was also the first to be cursed by it, too, as her marriage ended poorly, with a number of subsequent marriages also ending poorly.  She wound up dying alone, away from the hotel, but the apparition of a young girl that has been seen in the windows was attributed to her, as she grew up in this particular location when it was the Eagle Hotel.
            The Hotel Bethlehem certainly has its ghost stories, with the staff experiencing activity in the lobby, the boiler room, in the halls, and in the rooms; the guests have no shortage of stories to tell, and to top it all off, they have what they call a "Room With a Boo," which has the most amount of paranormal activity taking place in it, with EVPs, windows opening on their own, the apparition of a man in a tuxedo and top hat greeting you with, "Why are you in my room?"--certainly one of the most popular rooms the hotel has, as it has an item named with those two dreaded words for paranormal investigators: waiting list.  It's hard to reserve or get into, especially around Halloween time.  But it's probably worth it, as guests tend to emerge with stories to share.  There is no doubt that I'd love to spend a few nights in this room with cameras and digital recorders and Mel Meters and REM pods and Ovulus IIIs!  GODDAMMIT, JARVIS!  GET MY CHRISTMAS WISHLIST!

            I enjoyed the tour, and I wish I brought Dad's camera with me, but I have a ticket as a souvenir for now.  But I do plan on going around again, at night, to take pictures of these locations to see if anything does pop up.  Picture-taking is encouraged, and one of the other people touring in the group (dressed as a witch; somehow, there was a "coven" of witches dressed up for the tour, which was actually quite fun--I need to take a bunch of people myself, and have them all dressed up in Goth just to freak people out and laugh at the reactions!) took pictures of the group holding candles and after examining it back at the Book Shop, she was surprised to learn that in one of the images, all the flames of the candles we were all holding somehow extend in a ghostly way up to the top of the frame!  Like, wow!  (Why couldn't I take pictures like that, Dad?!)  And I plan on going back again next year, paying the $13 and holding a candle while hiking around just to take ghostly pictures of the tour and perhaps catch some visual evidence that I can stick into my sister's face and say, "Ha HA!  Who has proof of life NOW?!"

            It'd be even sweeter if she were there with me as I take the picture because then I can render her argument invalid in the moment!

            Ah, I love being right, and being able to prove it!