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Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country

Ghost Hunting San AntonioGhosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country by Michael O. Varhola is the latest addition to the popular haunted travel guides series and will be in a book store near you as of September 15. 

Clerisy Press is excited to celebrate this new addition to America’s Haunted Road Trip series with a GIVEAWAY, but first more about this new hands-on guide.

Local author Michael O. Varhola drew upon his training and experiences as a historian, journalist, and paranormal investigator while compiling this colorful and useful guide to publicly accessible haunted places in San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country. This guide fits every visitor’s needs with coverage of the paranormal, traveling the area, and Texas history.

Settled by Spanish explorers more than three centuries ago, San Antonio has a rich haunted history that includes conquistadores, the local Apache and Comanche Indian tribes, ancient monasteries, lost gold mines, battlefields, and elegant hotels. Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country covers 30 haunted locations in or around the cities of San Antonio and Austin and throughout the region known as Texas Hill Country, collectively one of the most haunted places in the country. Each site includes a combination of history, haunted lore and phenomena, and practical visitation information.

Michael VarholaAbout the author: Michael Varhola is a writer who has authored or coauthored 34 books and games — including the swords-and-sorcery novel Swords of Kos: Necropolis, and two fantasy writers guides. He has also published more than 120 games and related publications. He is the founder of game company Skirmisher Publishing LLC, editor in chief of d-Infinity game magazine, and editor of the America’s Haunted Road Trip series of ghosthunting travel guides. He has edited, published, or written for numerous publications, including The New York Times. He also has an active online presence, notably through Facebook and a variety of other blogs, forums, and sites. He lives in Texas Hill Country.

About the series: America’s Haunted Road Trip is a one-of-a-kind series of haunted travel guides. Each book profiles more than 30 haunted places open to the public. From inns and museums to cemeteries and theaters, the author visits each place interviewing people who live and work there. Also includes travel instructions, maps, and an appendix of 50 more places the reader can visit.

And now, as promised, the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win one copy of Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country
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ComedySportz Portland – Haunted!

ComedySportz Portland
ComedySportz Portland

When most people think of a comedy club, they do not necessarily liken it to a boxing match or mixed martial arts bout.

But ComedySportz Portland has quite a bit in common with both. A boxing or MMA match has two competitors, a referee, and a panel of judges.

Let Donna Stewart, the author of Ghosthunting Oregon tell you all about it!

The competitors battle it out to be the best and hopefully win, the referee is on hand to call out fouls or illegal actions, and the panel of judges ultimately decides the winner.

ComedySportz has two competitors (two comedy teams), a referee, and a panel of judges. Each team battles it out with hilarious jokes, skits, and songs. The referee is on hand to call foul, to relay suggestions from the audience, and to keep things moving right along. The panel of judges—which, in this case, is the audience—decides the winner of the bout via applause. It is a high-energy, fast-paced show that leaves spectators rolling in the aisles.

Another thing people do not necessarily associate with a comedy show is ghosts, but ComedySportz entertains in more than one way. It provides laughs, good company, and a family-friendly environment, and it also includes a paranormal element with its resident ghost—a spirit that apparently enjoys the shows as well!

The history of ComedySportz goes back 30 years to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a gentleman named Dick Chudnow. With a different structure than most comedy clubs, ComedySportz took off almost immediately, and another venue opened a year later in Madison, Wisconsin. Three years later, the first Comedy League of America National Tournament was held in Madison, with 10 teams participating. The World Comedy League now has more than 20 teams from as far away as the United Kingdom and Germany, proving hands down that laughter is a universal language.

Donna Stewart ComedySportz Portland
Author Donna Stewart

ComedySportz came to Portland in 1993 with Ruth Jenkins and Patrick Short, who are not only performers but are also the club president and general manager, respectively. Their run in Portland has been impressive, with more than 3,000 shows in 18 seasons and never missing a weekend. Unlike most comedy clubs, ComedySportz is family friendly, with children of all ages welcome at the shows. It is not out of the ordinary to see 4-year-old children sitting next to 40-year-old adults, enjoying the laughs, smiles, and ongoing entertainment.

One has to wonder why more ghosts do not haunt comedy clubs. . . . What better place to spend eternity? Instead of hanging out in dark, dingy rooms or deserted hospitals, wouldn’t life after death be more fun with unlimited laughter and happy people? If I have a choice after I die, you will find my ghost at ComedySportz.

It seems that one woman did decide to remain at Comedy- Sportz, and over the years a number of people have seen the specter of a middle-aged woman with red hair and a contagious laugh. The ComedySportz ghost seems to especially enjoy  spending time in the costume closet and with movie outfits.

Objects often get moved from one place to another, and a quiet voice has been heard both throughout the building and in the costume closet in particular. If she is attempting to attract someone’s attention, she will knock on doors or walls or other solid objects to indicate she is there. She has also been known to flip on and off the lights and laugh hysterically.

No area of ComedySportz is off-limits for its mischievous ghost, including the bathroom. There are dozens of reports of toilets flushing on their own, either while the bathroom is unoccupied or while customers are in the privacy of a stall. Hearing a toilet flush on its own can be a bit unnerving to most people, but it has become part of the ghost’s charm and practical-joking sense of humor. Those who have experienced this particular form of paranormal activity warn that it is best to finish what they went into the bathroom for before running to an awaiting public.

I didn’t experience any of this while I was there and was honestly too busy laughing and pounding on my table. Most of the people I spoke with after the show were much like me in that they were laughing too hard to take notice of much else. But there are some who visit ComedySportz Portland on a regular basis who have heard the ghostly woman’s laughter and her knocks for attention, and a few who have experienced her bathroom pranks.

“I come in sometimes for the workshops or other things they have going on here,” said one young woman. “It’s much quieter during the day when there are no shows going on. I have heard her laughing and knocking on things. It’s not scary or anything. It’s neat that someone would want to hang out here after they died. I bet she was an awesome, funny person when she was alive!” I also spoke with a young man who volunteers at ComedySportz who has not only heard the laughter but seen lights go on and off for no apparent reason.

“I was by myself in a room the first time it happened, and it creeped me out,” he told me. “I was talking to myself, trying to calm down. Then I thought, ‘This is stupid, it’s just a light. It’s not like Freddy Krueger or anything!’ It’s happened a few times. There aren’t electrical problems at all. Just off and on. I think the ghost likes it here and likes to joke around. It’s not like ghosts you see in the movies or anything. It’s just interesting and fun after you get used to it.”

Not one person I spoke with felt any fear of the happy ghost that resides at ComedySportz. Most seem to know about her and simply consider her to be part of the audience and the ComedySportz family. And judging from the many reports of her hysterical laughter, she obviously appreciates the comedic talent that abounds at the club.

ComedySportz is proof that haunted locations do not have to be dark and frightening, spine tingling, or traumatizing, and I highly recommend catching a show while you are in Portland. I have always believed that we are in death what we were in life, that we carry our personalities with us, and if this is true, then this particular ghost is happy and content where she is.

ComedySportz Portland offers much more than comedy shows each week, including a number of workshops and classes. One of the top eight comedy schools in the nation, ComedySportz holds improv classes for both adults and youth, stand-up comedy classes, team building and applied improvisation for businesses, and a number of other ways to learn how to keep oneself and others laughing and entertained.

ComedySportz is also community oriented and gives back in many ways. It sets aside 15% of its pretax profits each year and chooses a charity to donate it to; some of the charities it has helped include the American Red Cross, Oregon Humane Society, Oregon Special Olympics, Oregon Food Bank, and Camp  Ukandu. ComedySportz makes people all over Oregon and across the country smile in many different ways.

ComedySportz provides a good example of ghosts not being the spooky, frightening entities we are used to seeing on paranormal reality television. In fact, in my experience, the spooky, frightening ghosts are the exception. What we often forget is that any ghost was once as alive as you and I and had families, friends, emotions, and unique personalities. I believe that these traits are carried over when we pass; the energy that we carry as we live only changes forms when we die. I often recall the quote from Patrick Swayze’s character Sam Wheat in the movie Ghost: “It’s amazing, Molly. The love inside . . . we take it with us. . . .”

That’s the truest reference to life after death I have heard. And in the case of the ghost at ComedySportz, she took to the other side her love for laughter and passion for practical jokes.

Western Hills Country Club Ghost Story

Western Hills Country Club Ghost Story
Western Hills Country Club CC Jeff & Michael Morris

Western Hills Country Club Ghost Story is one of many ghost stories detailed by Jeff and Michael Morris in their Book Cincinnati Haunted Handbook. The brothers guide the readers to haunted roads and bridges, to cemeteries and museums, to schools, theaters and restaurants, stores, and any other place where people have reported paranormal experiences.

There are a variety of small hauntings that occur in this building. Sometimes glasses in the bar area will fall from where they are being stored all by themselves. People will see ghostly figures in early twentieth century dress walking throughout the building.

When approached, the figures fade away. Sometimes at night, when all the customers have left, people will see a man dressed as an employee setting the tables in the dining room. When approached, he vanishes.

Cincinnati Haunted Handbook
Cincinnati Haunted Handbook

If he is not approached, he finishes setting the tables and then disappears into the back of the building. Talk about a dedicated employee! Forget about calling in sick, these employees show up to work when they’re dead!

The history of the Western Hills Country Club

This country club was founded in 1912 and has since become a landmark in Western Hills. It is one of the oldest private clubs in Cincinnati and includes dining rooms, a bar, and a golf course. The neighborhood around the country club, especially on Neeb Road, includes some of the largest and most beautiful houses in the city. Most were built during the 1920s, and their original owners belonged to the Western Hills Country Club.

How to get there

Take I-75 north to exit 2B, Harrison Avenue, on the left side of the highway. Take the

Western Hills Viaduct and follow the signs that lead to Queen City Avenue. Follow Queen City Avenue to the left past the BP and go up the hill about a mile and a half until you get to the traffic light at Sunset Avenue. Turn left onto Sunset Avenue.

After about a half mile, turn right onto Guerley Road. At the top of the hill, Guerley changes its name to Cleves-Warsaw. Continue to follow this road straight for another two miles. The country club and golf course will be on your right.

The Real American Horror Story: Spirits of New Orleans

The FX thriller American Horror Story: Coven wrapped up its season on January 29. According to Entertainment Weekly, it averaged 4 million views, more than its previous seasons (Murder House averaged 2.8 million and Asylum average 2.5 million views). The third season of this self-containing miniseries centered on witches and voodoo practitioners in New Orleans, Louisiana. Spirits of New Orleans

If you loved Coven, you’ll love Spirits of New Orleans, a “paranormal road map to all things voodoo and vampire in New Orleans”, according to Bookish writer Jordon Scott.

Spirits of New Orleans explores the haunted history, paranormal activities, magical ceremonies, and supernatural rituals and practices that have haunted New Orleans for many years. Join author, intuitive, and oracle Kala Ambrose on a journey into the exciting history of New Orleans.

America’s Haunted Road Trip is a one-of-a-kind series of haunted travel guides. Each book profiles 30-100 haunted places open to the public. From inns and museums to cemeteries and theaters, the author visits each place, interviewing people who live and work there. Books also include travel instructions, maps, and an appendix of 50 more places the reader can visit.

 This blog post was written by our intern, Robyn Campbell.

Winter Got You Down? We’ve Got You Covered!

Winter Got You Down? We've Got You Covered!
Ghosthunting Florida

We’re getting to the point of winter that feels like it will never end. The cold has set in for what feel like the rest of eternity.

This is the time of year when people begin planning their summer vacations, the prospect of sunny, sandy beaches warming our chilled bones.

With Florida being one of the most popular vacation destinations, we thought we’d highlight a few of The Sunshine State’s most haunted hotspots for you, your friends, and family to check out this summer.

These and other haunted hangouts can be found described in further detail in Ghosthunting Florida by Dave Lapham.

The Biltmore Hotel of Coral Gables Miami, FL

For being less than 100 years old, the Biltmore Hotel has accumulated quite the history. Constructed in 1925, the hotel housed speakeasies and a casino during the Prohibition. In 1942 the hotel was converted into a hospital that treated soldiers returning from World War II. The Biltmore was renovated once again in 1992 and the next decade saw remodeling and updating making the hotel grander and more opulent than ever.

But through the Biltmore is more than just a historical artifact for the city of Miami; it is one of the city’s most haunted spots. The hotel boasts dozens of ghost encounters, from Thomas “Fatty” Walsh, Miami’s most powerful Prohibition-era gangster, to the “Woman in White”. An historic landmark and haunted hotspot, The Biltmore is certain to be a tour you won’t soon forget.

Pinewood Cemetery Daytona, FL The haunting of Pinewood Cemetery goes back to 1877 and the untimely death of Alena Beatrice Smith, the most commonly spotted ghost in the cemetery. One of the most paranormally active areas in Florida, Pinewood Cemetery is said to be filled with the souls of many dearly departed who linger still. For the ghost-hunting enthusiast, Pinewood Cemetery is a must.

Homestead Restaurant Jacksonville Beach, FL It’s hard to tell whether the Homestead Restaurant is more famous for it’s delicious, southern, home-cooked food or for it’s haunted legends, but one thing is for sure, both aspects of this iconic Jacksonville Beach spot draw an array of visitors.  The building, constructed as a personal residence in 1932, was left to Alpha Paynter, who used it as a boarding house until 1947, when she refurbished the building into a restaurant. Alpha is said to still be lurking at the Homestead, often seen sitting by the fireplace and walking the upstairs halls. The Homestead has hosted an array of owners, yet has consistently provided good food and good ghost stories. Whether you’re in search of a ghostly encounter or some of the best friend chicken you’ll ever have, you definitely need to check out the Homestead Restaurant.

This blog post was written by our intern, Katie Butts.

New Book Uncovers Windy City’s Ghosts

The newest addition to the America’s Haunted Road Trip series, Chicago Haunted Handbook, brings you 99 ghostly places you can visit in and around the Windy City. Authors Jeff Morris and Vince Sheilds profile 99 of the most haunted spots in Chicago, covering all the important information such as location, directions, a brief history of the spot, the ghost story behind the spot, and tips for when and how to visit.

Are you ready to hunt for ghosts in the Windy City?
All 99 locations are open to the public, and suggested tours are included in the back (Paranormal Pub Crawl, Gangland, etc.), which make this guide the perfect tool when planning your next ghosthunt in the Midwest. Combine this book with John Kachuba’s Ghosthunting Illinois or Helen Pattskyn’s Ghosthunting Michigan and make a real road trip out of it!

Chicago HH Cover (2)Ghosthunting-MI-lo-resScreen shot 2013-09-30 at 2.01.58 PM

All books in the AHRT series are $15.95* and are available at www.clerisypress.com.

*Except Beyond Delicious: The Ghost Whisperer’s Cookbook ($17.95)