Archive for November, 2012


Reel to Reel: The Christmas Special

Once again, my friends, the Christmas season is underway, and that means it’s time to immerse ourselves in the sort of cheerful yuletide content that we all love. There are Christmas books, Christmas movies, Christmas music, Christmas food (oh… oh dear Heaven the Christmas food…) but there’s one entertainment medium that, as far as I’m concerned, Christmas dominates like no other.

The television Christmas special.

Let’s think about it here. Think for a moment about what a TV special is – a short film made for the small screen. It’s not long enough to block out the two hours for a legitimate TV movie. It’s not necessarily part of a regular TV series, although it may be a spin-off, reunion show, or a backdoor pilot for one. Sometimes the characters are familiar, sometimes they’re one-off visitors, sometimes they’re telling a timeless story and sometimes they’re giving us something new.

And I don’t know about you guys, but the vast majority of the great television specials that linger in my mind are Christmas specials

Oh sure, there are a few Halloween greats, the odd Thanksgiving or Valentine’s Day yarn, but let’s be honest here. During those golden days when the word “SPECIAL” would spin out at us from our TV screens to announce the next thirty to sixty minutes of CBS would not be our regular programming, we were hoping to see Rudolph, or Frosty, or Charlie Brown putting up his sad little Christmas tree.

So this year, I’m giving my month of December to a discussion of 25 of the most memorable Christmas specials, at least as far as I’m concerned. Interestingly, this project has proven to have the opposite problem of this Halloween’s comedy/horror project, in which I simply couldn’t find very many old movies to discuss. This time around, the closer we get to the present day, the harder it is to find a truly great special. I managed to scrape up a few, but we’re still going to spend most of the month without getting past the 80s. I also tried to restrict myself to just one special per franchise, although there are countless Muppet, Sesame Street and Peanuts films I could have gone with. And I also refused to go with any of the endless reiterations of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, not because I don’t like them, but because there are so damn many of them I rather think it would be fun to do a Reel to Reel project someday looking exclusively at those films.

So come back tomorrow and we’re going to begin, appropriately enough, with the first great special from the good people at Rankin/Bass productions. We’re traveling back to 1964 to spend some time with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.


National Novel Writing Month Finished — OPH II Not So Much

I haven’t spent a lot of time here on the blog talking about National Novel Writing Month this year, but I have been giving pretty regular updates over on my Facebook Writer’s Page. You guys are all following that, right? You should. All the cool kids are doing it.

Anyway, if you have been following, you know I’ve been slowly inching towards the annual November goal of 50,000 words of a novel, and that this year’s book is the all-new sequel to my first novel, Other People’s Heroes. In this new book, it’s been several months since the first novel ended, Siegel City has changed dramatically, and not everybody is happy about it. Josh Corwood learns that life as a legitimate superhero isn’t as great as he expected it to be, and a new enemy begins operating right under their noses.

I’m about two-thirds of the way finished with the first draft of Other People’s Heroes II as of right now. (That’s not going to be the official title, by the way. I’m just calling it that because I haven’t come up with a title yet. Titles are hard for me for some reason. The original OPH was going to be called Capes and Masks almost right up until the final moment, but I never quite liked that title and kept looking for something better For marketing reasons, I’m thinking of calling the sequel Tyler Perry’s Fifty Shades of Ways to Die Hard in Twilight, Presented By Oprah.)

However, now that I’ve reached my goal, OPH II is going to be moved over just for a bit to make room for a few other projects. While I still intend to work on OPH II every day, I’ve got not one, but three other projects that are more time-sensitive, all of them holiday-related. In the coming days, you can look forward to…

Reel to Reel: The Christmas Special. I’m going to give the R2R treatment to 25 of the most beloved Christmas TV specials of all time. Charlie Brown, Rudolph, Frosty, the Muppets — I’m gonna talk about all of them over the next few weeks.

The Obligatory EBI Vol. 2: Is Santa Claus Super? Like my first Obligatory EBI collection, this will be a short, cheap e-book collecting some of my best EBI columns and other features associated with the Christmas season, including the now-legendary column that asked the eternal question, is Santa Claus a superhero? This one will hopefully be available no later than Monday, and I cannot WAIT for you guys to see the kick-ass cover Jacob Bascle has created for this one. He’s outdone himself.

The Ghost of Simon Tower. As you know, I do a new Christmas short story every year, and this year’s tale is going to take place in-between OPH and OPH II. It’s going to star Josh Corwood and a mysterious holiday visitor. And I’m not going to say any more about that just now.

And then I’ll get back to working full-time on OPH II. And then I’ll throw myself wholeheartedly into the revisions for The Pyrite War, the story of Siegel City’s first superhero. And hopefully you’ll see BOTH of those full-length novels in 2013.

So even though I’ve gotten extremely busy in my personal life as of late, in case you didn’t know, I find that this is only making me MORE determined to get my work out there, to build my audience, and to give you guys some content. So if you’re among the people who like reading my stuff, thank you wholeheartedly. All I want is to give you more to love.


Everything But Imaginary #470: Point of No Return

Inspired by a conversation with Adam from the Graphic Panels podcast, this week I take a look at the notion that there are some lines in comics that should not be crossed, some changes that should not be made, but also what happens when the creators are afraid to even try.

Everything But Imaginary #470: Point of No Return


2 in 1 Showcase Episode 278: Thanksgiving Leftovers

Still stuffed from a particularly exciting Thanksgiving week, Blake and Erin sit down to talk about things from across the Geek landscape. They review the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, talk with much spoiler-tude about recent events in The Walking Dead (both comic and TV show), and dish on the Batman crossover Death of the Family, the resurrected Amethyst in DC’s Sword of Sorcery, and the big twist in Amazing Spider-Man #698. Oh, and they’ve got a little something personal to share with you guys, too. In the picks, Erin recommends the Walking Dead novels Rise of the Governor and The Road to Woodbury, and Blake picks the Marvel Now! reboot of Deadpool. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 278: Thanksgiving Leftovers


Christmas Content Countdown

Hey, guys. Obviously there’s an AWFUL lot going on with me right now, both in my personal life, at work, and in my writing. I’ll actually let you guys know a bit more about that last part in a few days. But in the meantime, the countdown to Christmas has begun, and I thought I’d just remind you guys that I’ve currently got two Christmas themed eBooks available and I’ve got a wedding to pay for.

First up, a for a mere $2.99 you can get A Long November, my anthology of Christmas stories written from 2000-2008, including the novella A Long November and nine short stories, some of which do tie in to the Other People’s Heroes or Beginner/Opening Night of the Dead universes, others which are more standalone. Here are all the places online to find it:

Second, last year I got into the eBook game big-time, including the release of a new short story set in the world of Other People’s Heroes. Christmas in Las Vegas in a world full of superheroes gives us the short story Lucky Penny. And there’s a bonus short in there as well, a sci-fi yarn called Stowaway. Here’s where you can find this 99-cent quickie:

And in the next few weeks, you can expect to find a few more Yuletide goodies from me. Is Santa Super? will be the next “Obligatory Everything But Imaginary” collection, rounding up several of my holiday-themed columns and features from around the internet. And as I’ve done since 2000, I’ll have a new Christmas story for you as well. This time it’s going to be a new OPH story, The Ghost of Simon Tower. Because screw Halloween, there’s no time like Christmas for a ghost story.

Keep your eyes open, tell your friends, and check out these books, guys. Hope you enjoy them, and I hope you come back for more stuff from me very soon.



A very good day at the zoo

“So what do you want to do today?” Erin asked me. I didn’t actually have an answer. She didn’t know it, but I wanted to think of something nice, something special, something she would remember…

“How about the zoo?” she suggested. My mind started racing. The zoo? I can’t do it at the zoo, can I? Well… maybe… I guess that might be–

While I was thinking, my face must have shown a little hesitation, because she started suggesting alternatives. “Or we could do the Honey Island Swamp Tour.”

Not on the Swamp Tour. Not on the Swamp Tour.

“The zoo sounds like fun,” I said.

We’ve been to the Audubon Zoo before, of course, but it had been a couple of years and, really, it’s the sort of thing that always has plenty of repeatability. It’s a fun little outing and, on a Tuesday in November in New Orleans, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. We went in (she bought the tickets because on the way she managed to coerce me into calling the Swamp Tour people and making us a pair of reservations for Wednesday) and started to go through the exhibits. She spent a long time taking pictures of the elephants, we took silly pictures together in front of the fountain, we saw the White Tiger and the monkeys and the alligators.

And throughout, I kept looking for a chance to do it. Too many people here. We’re standing on a wooden bridge, what if I drop it? Not now, that vulture just pooped.

I thought I would have a chance in the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit. She was sitting on a rocker in a mock-up of an old swamp store front. There was no one around. We talked and I tell her I love her and how much she means to me and–

And she saw the wasp nests overhead and said, “Nope!” and started walking away.

“There aren’t any wasps here!” I said. “I don’t think those are even real!”

“Nope!” She kept going so I jogged after her. After a few minutes she says, “I interrupted something really sweet, didn’t I?”

“Kind of,” I said.

We kept walking and looking at the exhibits. Again and again, other people show up and break the moment, or I can’t find a good place to stop, or there’s an emu staring at us that’s kind of creeping us out.

Finally, we went to the sea lion exhibit. She loves the sea lions. She could stand there and watch them swim around all day. After a few minutes, we went to the bottom part of the exhibit, a secluded little spot where you can watch them swim through the glass. She took out her camera to take a “blue picture” of the two of us, lit by the sunlight coming through the water. She didn’t know, when she took the photo, I already had it in my hand behind her back.

She looked at the picture. “The only thing that would be better is if we turned around and there were three sea lions waving at us.”

“The only thing?” I said.

“Well… not the only thing.”

“What could be better?” I asked.

“If you had a puppy in your pocket,” she replied.

“I don’t have a puppy,” I said. “They don’t fit in your pockets.”

“Okay,” she said.

“But this does,” I said, and I took out the ring.

After that other things were said, other questions asked and answered, but it was a little bit of a blur and I don’t remember them exactly and it’s none of your damn business anyway. There was one important word.


And she said it.


Everything But Imaginary #469: Care For the Cosplayers

The great artist Tony Harris went oddly off the rails yesterday, launching an online rant against cosplayers, those jolly types who go to a comic convention dressed as their favorite characters. And there’s one major question that one has to ask about something like this…

“The hell?”

Everything But Imaginary #469: Care For the Cosplayers


Everything But Imaginary #468: 52 Problems and a Variant is Most of ’em

DC Comics has a new Justice League of America comic title premiering in a few months and the first issue will hit with…

…wait, how many covers?

That’s got to be a typo, right?

FIFTY-TWO variant covers?

Oh for Pete’s sake.

Everything But Imaginary #468: 52 Problems and a Variant is Most of ’em


2 in 1 Showcase Episode 277: The 2012 Holiday Movie Preview


Delayed a few days by technical difficulties, the Showcase is back! This week, Blake and Erin talk about the big Disney/Lucasfilm news before diving into the big movie releases of November and December. James Bond returns! Peter Jackson takes us back to Middle-Earth! Lincoln rises from the grave or something! And lest we forget: Cirque de Soleil! All this and more in the annual Holiday Movie Preview special! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 277: The 2012 Holiday Movie Preview


Lunatics and Laughter: A Postscript

Hey, everybody. Thanks so much for sticking with me for the 20 days of Lunatics and Laughter. It’s my second Reel to Reel project and, more even than the first one, I really believe that this is a viable format for discussing movies of all types, and I’m anticipating doing many more of them in the future. I started this year a little late, so it was shorter than the first one. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that I have an opportunity to do more new articles for the expanded eBook edition next year. Are you mad that I skipped Teen Wolf? Lachrymose there’s no Little Shop of Horrors? Despondent that I couldn’t find time for Dead Alive? Don’t worry, all of those and more are on the expanded list, and will be in the eventual book.

But now that phase one of L&L is over, I am already pondering what the next Reel to Reel will be. I love doing this, and it’s a lot of fun, but it’s also tougher than I would have expected. You see, I don’t just sit down and write the articles off the top of my head. I write as I’m watching the movie, no matter how many times I’ve seen it before, inserting analysis and jotting synopsis notes as I go. Then, after the movie ends, I keep writing (because I’m never finished), edit, format, and schedule the post. A 90-minute movie typically takes me two and a half to three hours to get the article ready for you to read. The longer the movie, obviously, the longer it takes. And when I’m working at my day job, it can be really easy to fall behind. For the last two weeks I’ve basically been doing a movie a night to keep up, which sounds like fun until you realize that if I slip up and can’t get it done, I miss a day and then feel very very bad about myself.

So I’m not quite ready to tackle another full-length R2R anytime soon. On the other hand, I don’t quite want to wait a whole year before the next one either. From the moment I first conceived of Reel to Reel I considered doing a Christmas-themed project, but that’s pretty daunting, as you really can’t get a head start on that. For the first Halloween project I started in May. The second one, the shorter one, began in September. But with Christmas movies, if I start watching them before Thanksgiving I can’t feel the spirit, so the time frame is even more compressed.

So how about this. What if, instead of doing a R2R Christmas movie project this year, I instead do a project featuring 25 Christmas television specials? They’re shorter. It should be less of a time commitment. And I’ve already got a trillion of them in my DVD collection.

So I went through my DVDs and picked out the candidates. Let me explain just how it’s going to work, though. First of all, TV specials only. No theatrical films this time around. Second, for the purpose of this experiment I’m defining “special” as a show with a running time of one hour or less. Any longer than that and it’s a TV movie, which I may give their own project someday, but not now. I’m also disqualifying any Christmas episodes of ongoing TV shows, although I again reserve the right to do another R2R project about those at some undefined point in the future. I will, however, allow one-shot spin-offs of TV shows or movies or early specials that served as a sort of pilot for future TV shows (henceforth allowing me to sneak in The Simpsons. You can accuse me of cheating if you want. My response to you is to write your own dang book.) Finally, I’m disqualifying any and all variants, parodies or adaptations of A Christmas Carol, because there are so flippin’ many of them I can easily devote an entire future R2R just to those.

So here are the 25 specials I’ve decided to go with, culled from my DVD collection. I intend to post these one a day, from December 1 to December 25. Consider it my own little advent calendar.

  1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
  2. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
  3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
  4. The Little Drummer Boy (1968)
  5. Frosty the Snowman (1969)
  6. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970)
  7. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
  8. Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)
  9. Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas (1977)
  10. The Fat Albert Christmas Special (1977)
  11. Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)
  12. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978)
  13. The Small One (1978)
  14. A Chipmunk Christmas (1981)
  15. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1985)
  16. Jim Henson’s The Christmas Toy (1986)
  17. A Claymation Christmas Celebration (1987)
  18. A Garfield Christmas Special (1987)
  19. A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
  20. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988)
  21. Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989)
  22. Opus and Bill in A Wish For Wings That Work (1991)
  23. The Flintstones Christmas in Bedrock (1996)
  24. A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (2008)
  25. Prep and Landing (2009)

Are there others I could have chosen? Of course. Will I do an expanded version later? More than likely. But for now, I’m gonna spend November working on National Novel Writing Month (more on that later), so this is officially the last I’m going to think about R2R until I finish my NaNoNovel or until November 30, whichever comes first.

Thanks for playing along, guys! Stick around, because I’ll have plenty to talk about in the next few weeks!

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