The Creepiest Christmas Carols You’ll Hear This Holiday Season

For those who celebrate Christmas, and those subject to its mass commercialization, carols flood the airwaves on every radio station and in every store. Back in the day when I use to work at Barnes & Noble, I would dread the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, it was the hell hole known as Black Friday, but it was also the start of constant Christmas carols being played overhead. They’d repeat so much that it would eventually turn into white noise… until a new CD was put into the system, and then the torture would begin all over again. And this isn’t to say I don’t like Christmas carols, I do. But please save me from hearing them everywhere.

However, as I was cruising the interwebs this morning, I came across some carols with a minor twist. Chase Holfeder is a singer on YouTube who in addition to his own work, offers covers of various songs, and most interestingly, minor covers of major key songs. I actually first heard his minor key Star Spangled Banner just after he started his channel and was immediately entranced. I played the clarinet in middle and high school… very badly, and i never had any interest (or talent) in music theory, so I had no idea that changing the key of a song would have such an effect. But boy does it, especially when applied to normally cheery Christmas songs.

Collaborating with fellow YouTuber Kurt Hugo Schneider, Chase has given us a creepy All I Want From Christmas Is You that is equal parts melancholy as it is rocking.

Last year he covered Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas in an equally creeptastic fashion, and it’s just begging to be used for a horror Christmas film. Those things exist, yeah?

You can check out more of Chase’s work on his YouTube Channel .

Alston Stephanus: Indonesian Fashion Icon. Cosplayer. Costume Designer.

Swarovski crystals. French lace. And more feathers than the fanciest of birds. These are just some of the defining features of Jakarta born Alston Stephanus’ fashion designs. In 2005 this creative young man created his own accessories company, redefining what Indonesian fashion was through mixing … Continue reading Alston Stephanus: Indonesian Fashion Icon. Cosplayer. Costume Designer.

A Very Sherlockian PJ Party

BALLANNOUNCEMENT

I have the distinct pleasure of having helped raise $16,000 for wounded and disabled veterans the past three years thanks to The Baker Street Babes Daintiest Charity Ball. Amazing and generous people donate arts, crafts, and collectibles to us and we auction them off during the annual BSI Weekend. BSI Weekend is basically a week in Manhattan where Sherlock Holmes fans all congregate together form all over the world and geek out by attending various swanky parties and getting really drunk. It’s an amazing time and I make sure never to miss it (especially since I co-host the charity ball and all, but I digress).

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This year we’re back at it and to add a flair of whimsy, we’re having a PJ party! Yes, so come in your tails and ballgowns or in dressing gowns and bunny slippers.

The Daintiest Thing in a Dressing Gown Pyjama Party

Hosted by William Gillette. The Baker Street Babes present a charity ball to benefit the Disabled American Veterans Trust.

Thursday, January 14th at 8:00 p.m.  The Player’s Club at 16 Gramercy Park South, NY 10003

Cost: $45.00 – $65.00

Open to all Sherlockians and their friends. There will be a buffet dinner, cash bar, live music, prizes, toasts, and entertainment.

Tickets went on sale today, so if you’ll be in or can get into the NYC area on January 14th, we’d love to have you! You can find a bit more information at the BSB website and buy tickets by clicking the banner above or at this handy dandy link.

Hope to see you there!

Boo! On Ghosts, Spirits, & Tom Hiddleston’s Ass

Tomorrow is Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, the day where our world and whatever notion of the afterlife/Veil/Fade you believe or don’t believe in are the closest.

I’m spending Halloween in Gettysburg with a friend and fellow history buff. We’ll picnic on the battlegrounds, roam about the adorable and historically significant town, and then we’re going on a ghost hunt (followed by a midnight showing of Crimson Peak). A ghost hunt you say? Yup. We’ll be given paranormal equipment and everything apparently. When she first asked me my immediate reaction was “oh god I’m such a chicken.”

ghosthugI don’t do horror. The Shining has scarred me for over a decade. I scream at anything that jumps out at me. My sister use to have long hair and would stand outside my bedroom door as Samara from The Ring patiently until I opened it. Multiple times. I always fell for it. She’s probably still laughing at me. I scare easily. I made the mistake of watching the first season of Supernatural in the dark (it was freaking SCARY in the early days). I’ve watched ghost hunting shows… well parts of them, before having to change channels (either from being freaked out or laughing at the ridiculousness of it). The radio series I’m writing actually deals with ghost hunters, and I’m some sort of masochist because this involves a lot of me researching horrible hauntings and things, which just freak me out. Despite all this, the world of the “beyond” still intrigues me.

After having a rather enlightening discussion with this same friend about spirits, ghosts, and what we believed or didn’t, it got me thinking about what I actually thought about what happens to people (and animals) after passing on.

So I asked twitter and facebook if they believed in ghosts.

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As expected, the answers were pretty evenly split. Just as much people think the idea of the existence of ghosts is rubbish as many claimed to have had their own experiences with the supernatural.

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As for me? I’m one of those obnoxious people who isn’t quite sure. On one hand, I only believe in hard facts, things that science can prove. On the other hand, I’ve had more than one occasion where I’ve been unsure, that my gut is telling me something vastly different from my brain. I don’t know if I necessarily believe in spirits waltzing around with unfinished business, but I do think there can be remnants of someone left behind, especially in traumatic death. I’ve been places where suddenly everything would feel… different. The energy would change. I’m empathetic by nature, so I’m already sensitive to other people, so perhaps i’m sensitive to this sort of thing too. I don’t know, I can’t explain it, but I would feel something odd and just need to leave. And I know I’m not alone in this.

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I’m easily spooked. Just a few weeks ago I was puppy sitting and the two were going absolutely ape-shit barking at this one spot in this one room. They would not stop. They wouldn’t go in there either. The house made a lot of weird noises that night and I was so convinced there was something that I slept upstairs instead of in my bedroom down below. Was my mind playing tricks on me? Probably most definitely. Was I still weary of the fact something was roaming about the house? Yup. My overactive imagination has trumped my rationale on more than one occasion and my general cynical nature had beat myself up about it even more.

I’m also a very superstitious person. While a lot of this I believe stems from my panic and anxiety disorders (I will seriously fret over the most innocuous and ridiculous of things), I can’t deny that there is something more to it as well. I have rituals I go through every night to ask for protection of those I love. I don’t even know who I’m asking or what, but I can’t imagine not doing the ritual because then something horrible will happen. It just will. In this same vein, I’m a big believer in charms (called omamori): all of which I’ve gotten at Shinto shrines in Japan. Shintoism is big on ritual, and even all Shintoists don’t necessarily believe in the spirits/gods (kami), but believe in the power of ritual (offerings, prayer to wish good luck and get rid of bad luck) and “energy.” The same energy that many people spoke of possible believing in or understanding that certain places can have that weird energy left over after death.  I don’t claim to ascribe to Shintoism in any vein, but I find comfort in the rituals of scarring bad spirits away to make wishes, of fortunes, and of the charms they sell to believers and non-believers alike. I keep a charm warding against evil in my wallet and gave happiness charms to my mom and sister. My sister still has a safe driving charm she got five years ago and claims it’s helped her on more than one occasion. We all believe they work and really, as I suppose with any faith or superstition (or what-have-you), the personal belief is all that really matters.

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Omamori for sale.

So if you believe in ghosts, whether you have had your own experiences or not, that’s cool. If you think this and everything I’ve just said is batshit, cool beans. You’re allowed to think that.

So we’ll see what this ghost hunt brings. Perhaps it will be super hokey and we’ll spend the whole time laughing and shouting out into the dark if some poor Civil War soldier has anything to say. Or perhaps or ghostometer thingie will start beeping and I’ll run away screaming. The movie will probably scare me out of my mind because well, creepy ghost things. But at least, at the end of the night, I’ll get to see Tom Hiddleston’s ass, so that’s something.

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How about you? Do you believe in ghosts?

Dress Like The Fade With The Dragon Age Fall Collection

Cole: Your clothes look like the Fade, Dorian.
Dorian: The stuff of dreams? An explosion of color and sensation wrapped in an enigma?
Cole: It’s shiny.

If you follow me on twitter or tumblr, then you know I am epically obsessed with Dragon Age. It’s BioWare’s fantasy baby and was a HUGE part of my life last year when I didn’t really have anything. I dove in without knowing anything about the series and fell, as my friend Ardy put it, “heart first.”

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Me & my Cullen tank <3

And I really did. I’ve clocked an alarming amount of hours on Dragon Age: Inquisition between my current FIVE playthroughs and I’ve beaten the first two in the series multiple times as well. The lore is rich, the characters well developed and interesting and complex, and everything is pretty with lots of magic. I like magic. It was instrumental in getting me back into gaming and has broaden my horizons considerably in terms of the media I enjoy. Long had I thought my love of fantasy was dead when the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy ended, but I’m back to being fantasy loving trash. And I mean that in the most sincere way possible. It’s a great genre and is endless in its possibilities. So thanks for that.

One of the first things I do when I fall in love with something is scour the internet to buy things to show how much I love it. So finding official and fan made Dragon Age merchandise was my number one goal for a good few weeks. I initially got my hands on the Cullen tank and Tevinter hoodie and more stickers of the characters than I care to admit, and that was fabulous. And then rumors started spreading that BioWare and ThinkGeek were creating some new items. Eventually these were revealed at a fashion show at PAX Prime to much delight and squeals and much of the internet opening their wallets. Everything looked amazing, and better yet, it looked unique. These weren’t just the run-of-the-mill t-shirts with the logo on them, no, these pieces were actually conceptualized and reflected the characters. And they were interesting pieces in terms of their construction as well. I was immediately impressed and the more I learned about what BioWare and ThinkGeek were working on, the more jazzed I got.

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Dorian Hoodie! Look at those buckles and drool along with me.

The Dragon Age Fall Collection dropped today at the Bio Ware store and immediately my timeline exploded. And it’s not had to see why. The stuff looks stellar. These were all created in conjunction with ThinkGeek Solutions, and it’s a partnership I never want to see die.

Let’s also take a moment to really commend Bio Ware for catering to us ladies. Women are the majority of gamers, despite what G4merG4te wackos preach, and it’s nice to see that recognized in terms of merchandise.

But what’s even more important it supporting this, because the more merch women gamers buy, the more that will be generated. It’s a win-win for us really because we get more stuff and thus they will continue to make more for us. Bio Ware is really great at listening to its fan base, especially in comparison to other studios. Players have always had the option of playing as a man or woman and they’ve been including more homosexual, bisexual, and transgender characters, story lines, and romances in recent games.

Templar bae Cullen hoodie. Look at that adorable flared out waist!
Templar bae Cullen hoodie. Look at that adorable flared out waist!

And these characters have become very popular; case and point with Dorian Pavus getting his own hoodie! That sort of representation in terms of merchandise is still very rare today, so it’s great to see. Not to mention, I know the vast majority of my timeline is gunning for that hoodie because of their love of Dorian. That’s telling.

It’s important to support studios who do this, so make your voices heard and wear cute things as well!

You can pre-order the fall collection goodies at the BioWare store.

Scrumptious Saturday: Moriarty Mulled Cider

“You must drop it, Mr. Holmes, you really must, you know.”

– Professor James Moriarty, The Final Problem

Whoops! This was supposed to go up yesterday, but the kitchen was a bit busy and so here’s a special Sunday edition of Scrumptious Saturday! I was trying to think of something that would be a good follow up to my TARDIS cupcakes, which were quite popular (the official Doctor Who tumblr reblogged them!), but was falling a bit short. That’s when I remembered that I have a few Sherlock Holmes cookbooks and grabbed a random one off the shelf and went to work.

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I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now, but just in case you haven’t, I’m a huge Sherlockian. Like, it can be a little alarming. I run a Sherlock Holmes podcast, host huge events in honor of the detective, am a member of the invite only Baker Street Irregulars, and have a growing collection of Great Mouse Detective memorabilia (mostly thanks to people who know how much I love the movie and thus send me finds they come across, I am not worthy). Anywho, I like Sherlock Holmes.  So of course I have multiple Sherlock Holmes cookbooks. The one I grabbed was called The Sherlock Holmes Cookbook by John Farrell, though the recipe I ended up being inspired by was actually by Sean Wright in the Baker Street Meals & Menus section. The book itself is kinda meh. I wasn’t overly impressed and found a lot of the recipes a bit mundane, but it did offer inspiration in an unlikely way.

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I came across this mulled cider recipe and laughed. Moriarty? Mulled cider? These two things do not match. I mean, yes, Moriarty is an Irish surname and Irish cider is a thing, but if anything I would have made it Moriarty’s Mulled Wine. As my friend Sora pointed out, Moriarty’s drinks should be red, because the man is a villain, etc etc. But it’s October and the idea of warm cider was too good to pass up. But this recipe was boring. I needed to jazz it up a bit. Not to mention that the Victorian trailer for the new Sherlock special was just released and thus I was feeling extra inspired. Here, have a watch and get excited with me:

Now that we’re all on the same page and screaming with joy. Let’s make ourselves a worthy mulled cider, shall we?

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 1/2 gallon of apple cider
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 shot brandy (or more if you want to booze it up)
  • A few squeezes of honey
  • A pinch of salt
  • Optional: Add mulling spices or a combination of whole cloves and allspice for added spice

ingredients

MAKE THE THING!

  1. Combine everything, yes, everything. Wait, not the 4th cinnamon stick, save that.
  2. Bring to a slow boil and then let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Strain to get all the bits and bobs out of it. Strain again just to be sure.
  4. Put into a mug, plop the extra cinnamon stick in there, and enjoy! For an extra boozy treat, add another shot of brandy.

ciderIf you want to make it red, you can always crush some cranberries in there or even throw in food coloring. I’m not a food coloring addict, I promise. It’s just fun. I’m apparently also a child and just love eating and drinking things that are ridiculous colors. I kept mine it’s regular color, though now I’m tempted. Top this with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon for an extra indulgent treat, and even freeze it for mulled cider pops, because why not?!

Nothing about mulled cider is really Moriartyish, let’s be real. Even pulling the Irish cider card. I accept that. I’m not sure why the authors of this cookbook felt to attach the professor’s name to this delicious warm beverage, but it gave me a chance to ramble about Sherlock Holmes again. Not to mention that it’s still tasty and a perfect treat on a chilly autumn evening.

Enjoy!