I’ve always been the kind of person who loves holidays. It’s a great excuse to craft things, bake delicious pumpkin and gingerbread desserts, spend time with your loved ones, and simply enjoy the spirited atmosphere that surrounds them. Christmas has always been my favorite, but Halloween is a close second. Because of the storm we didn’t have a traditional Halloween this year but I still ate my candy and watched James Gunn flicks. One of the most exciting things to happen this week (you know, besides that whole hurricane thing), is that Starbucks brought back their holiday cups! That means that Christmas is right around the corner! I had my first gingerbread latte of the season this past Thursday and it was the perfect way to console myself for being at work while the rest of my friends and family were at home.
Christmastime is hands down my favorite time of the year. I always do everything I possibly can to enjoy each moment of the holiday season before it ends and I’m forced to wait until next year to celebrate again. Some of my favorite traditions include helping my mom bake Christmas cookies (this year we baked gingerbread cookies, raspberry thumbprint cookies, pecan danties, almond crescents, butter cookies, and rainbow cookies in Christmas colors), driving around aimlessly to admire all of the festive lights, watching some of my favorite movies (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Santa Clause, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, It’s a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Home Alone, Love Actually), enjoying way too many of Starbucks’ gingerbread lattes while visiting all of the holiday shops and Christmas trees set up around New York City, reading some of my favorite stories (Nicholas Was… a short story by Neil Gaiman, Batman Noel [which Jen & I just did a Super Villains Comic Book Club episode about], Polar Express, Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash Christmas issue and Christmas Trees by Robert Frost), decorating everything in sight from my house to my desk and even my car, and loudly singing along to the Christmas music I grew up listening to (as Buddy the Elf says, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear). Well this post has turned into a list of all of the Christmas entertainment I love, but the purpose was to focus on television episodes. Below are my 25 favorite Christmas themed television episodes in no particular order!
1) Buffy the Vampire Slayer – ‘Amends’ (Season 3, Episode 10) – Amends is the only Christmas episode of Buffy that was made in all eight seasons. In this episode Angel is haunted by his past by the forces of the The First Evil, and Buffy struggles to get rid of the Bringers. The episode ends with a beautiful snowfall in Sunnydale.
2) Batman: The Animated Series – ‘Christmas with the Joker’ (Season 1, Episode 2) – The Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum on Christmas Eve on a Christmas tree and begins to wreak havoc in Gotham. He kidnaps Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, and Harvey Bullock, and the gives Batman and Robin until midnight to save them.
3) Doctor Who – ‘A Christmas Carol’ & ‘The Doctor, The Widow & The Wardrobe’- In ‘A Christmas Carol,’ my favorite Doctor, the charming number Eleven, attempts to save his companions Rory and Amy who are trapped on a space liner in a strange cloud belt. The Doctor has to convince the Scrooge, Kazran Sardick, to help and he does so by trying to change his past and make him into a nicer person. The following years’ special ‘The Doctor, The Widow, & The Wardrobe,” is a Narnia-esque fairy tale in which two children happen upon a present the leads to an alternate universe. The universe is inhabited by a bunch a treelike people who are attempting to escape through a human vessel.
4) Supernatural – ‘A Very Supernatural Christmas’ (Season 3, Episode 8) – Sam and Dean chase a pair of Pagan gods who have assimilated themselves to society but still require a yearly sacrifice. The pair sell Christmas wreaths which ultimately ties them to the murders. All of their victims are mysteriously pulled up their chimneys before disappearing forever.
5) Tales From the Crypt – ‘And All Through the House’ (Season 1, Episode 2) – The episode begins with a woman murdering her husband in order to get his life insurance money. Afterwards she is chased all through her house by an escaped mental patient who is dressed in a Santa Claus outfit.
6) Smallville – ‘Lexmas’ (Season 5, Episode 9) – Lex Luthor, one of my favorite characters on Smallville, is shot and he slips into a coma. During the time he is unconscious he is visited by his deceased mother’s ghost and she shows him what his life would be like if he denounced his father Lionel. Lex sees himself happily married to Lana who is pregnant with their second child.
7) Adventure Time – ‘Holly Jolly Secrets Parts 1 & 2’ (Season 3, Episodes 19-20) – In which, Fin and Jake find the Ice Kings video diary and try to decipher it in an effort to discover the Ice King’s deepest secret. In part 2 of the special, the Ice King tries to steal his video diaries back from Fin and Jake.
8) The X-Files – ‘How the Ghosts Stole Christmas’ (Season 6, Episode 6) – Mulder and Scully spend their Christmas Eve investigating a haunted house in Maryland where a couple had made a lover’s pact and died together so they would never have to be alone. Now the ghosts of the dead lovers are trying to convince the new living couple who move into the house to make the same pact.
9) Kim Possible – ‘A Very Possible Christmas’ (Season 2, Episode 16) – Kim is forced to travel around the world searching for Ron after a very thoughtful Christmas gift he plans for Kim goes awry. Ron and Drakken bond over a Christmas special they both love called Snowman Hank, and Kim and the rest of the Possibles save the day.
10) The OC – ‘The Best Chrismukkah Ever’ (Season 1, Episode 13) – In this very Seth Cohen centric episode, Seth struggles to keep his family together by celebrating Chrismukkah, a holiday he invented as a child which combines Christmas and Hanukkah. Meanwhile, Seth is also struggling to choose between Anna and Summer. He makes the same mixtape for them while Anna gives him a homemade comic book starting Seth as the hero, and Summer dresses up as Wonder Woman.
11) 3rd Rock From the Sun – ‘Jolly Old St. Dick’ (Season 2, Episode 12) – The High Commander played by John Lithgow, prepares his alien family for their first Christmas on Earth by cutting down a Christmas tree from someone’s yard which results in his arrest. Meanwhile Sally gets a job wrapping presents at the mall, and Harry as one of Santa’s elves. Although, Harry becomes enraged when he discovers that he is not in fact working for the real Santa.
12) The Big Bang Theory – ‘The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis’ (Season 2, Episode 11) – Shledon, already skeptical about the holiday season claiming that Christmas is just a ripoff of the Pagan holiday Saturnalia, has always been against gift giving. Once he learns that Penny has gotten him a gift, he struggles to find something for her that will be worth an equal value. Once he learns what Penny’s gift is, Sheldon is uncharacteristically overcome with emotion, and it is the first time we see Sheldon embrace Penny in a hug.
Several days ago on Twitter, I asked everyone if they could choose a place, real or imagined, and live there, where it would be. I was met with an overwhelming number of responses that continued throughout the day and I felt so inspired by everyone’s differing opinions that I decided to compile a list of my own fictional places I would love to move to. The truth is that given the opportunity to move, I would choose to stay where I am, but it’s still fun to daydream! I would create a list of real places too, but as New York is the only real place I would like to live in, the list would be quite short. I’m sure no one will find it surprising that two of the five places I chose are fictional version of New York =^.^=
Sugar Rush – Sugar Rush is one of the newest imaginary places that I fell in love with while seeing Wreck-It Ralph last weekend. This simulated land is the setting for a video game and it was built completely out of sweets. Everyone who resides in Sugar Rush is a type of candy, or they incorporate candy into their signature looks (ie Vanellope’s sweet hair accessories). Sugar Rush is like Candyland, only more pink, and ruled as a democracy.
Fabletown – Fabletown is the first alternate NYC that I would like to reside in. But just to be clear, I would be a Fable and not a mundy. More specifically, I would probably be Cinderella, better known to the Fables as Cindy. I would wander around Bullfinch street, have an even vaster shoe collection than I have now, and venture out into the real New York City anytime my heart desired. And I’d get to go on secret missions for Bigby! (I couldn’t find a great image of Fabletown, so the image above is one of my favorite Fables covers for issue #118)
Hogwarts – Hogwarts is a gorgeous castle with an enormous library burgeoning with tons of magical books that I have yet to read. I’d love to spend hours reading Hogwarts, A History while drinking a frosty butterbeer in the common room, or strolling around the castle until whatever mischief I would inevitably get myself into is managed. Plus, the Great Hall is charming during Halloween and Christmas<3
Star Wars Universe – In my mind, this could only be the perfect scenario: Traveling through the galaxy with C3PO and R2D2 accompanying Han Solo and I on the Millennium Falcon (my favorite spacecraft)! We’d stop on the Death Star and have run-ins with Vader and some Stormtroopers and everything would be stellar. Knowing me, I would have lightsaber fights galore (mine would be purple like Mara Jade’s). The force is strong with my love of Star Wars and space.
Superhero Inhabited NYC – If my city was inhabited with superheroes my dreams would be a reality. In a world where Spider-Man, Batman, the Fantastic Four, and Dick Grayson could be seen at a any moment walking through NYC, I would be an even happier girl. I would be best friends with Stephanie Brown, and I would definitely be there to fill the Gwen Stacy sized void in Spider-Man’s heart. There would also be so many other heroes visiting their NY friends all of the time and I’d be surrounded by everything I love most. The only downside would be the many villains the city would attract, but something tells me there would be enough good guys to prevail that it wouldn’t be a major issue.
Since Hurricane Sandy has struck, there has been little to no transportation available around New York, plus most establishments were out of power, and some still are. Never in all of my years have I seen the school district close down for six consecutive days and counting. I am so thankful that everyone in my family and all of my friends made it through the storm okay with only minor damage and power loss in some instances. One thing Hurricane Sandy has forced me to do is spend a lot of time inside my house. Work was closed for two days last week (we were nowhere near as lucky as the schools!), and I used that time to finish reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, reorganize my book and graphic novels shelves, reorganize and minimize my DVD collection, straighten up some of the cluttered areas in my room (all while watching The X-Files), and spend a lot of time watching classic movies with the rest of my family. It feels like I’ve been on the go since last March so it was really nice to enjoy a relaxing week at home for a change. Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy curling up in my bed with a good book and a hot cup of tea, or lounging on my downstairs couch for family movie nights. It’s always lovely to reconnect at home and spend some time selfishly indulging in the things that make you happy. But now that it has been a few days, I’m ready to run out to Manhattan for more adventures. I have plenty of exciting things coming up this holiday season, which I’ll be sure to share with everyone :o)
(I almost never wear my glasses, and I definitely never post photos in them, but since so much of my time was spent at home it just seemed easier than putting in contacts everyday.) Anyway, before I left for Florida I took a Twitter poll to see what I should read. I began reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline on my flight there thanks to the overwhelmingly positive recommendations of some of my Twitter followers! After the first page of the story, I was absolutely hooked. Cline mixes my love of the 80’s with my love of classic video games to create a compelling story about an international video game challenge where players were competing to inherit the fortune and control over OASIS in real life after the creator passed away and left a video explaining the prize and a clue to begin the contest as a part of his will. It took years before the first key was found (there are three keys and three gates that must be cleared in order to win the game) but once Parzival got the ball rolling, it was only a matter of days before other gunters (players who devoted their lives to the hunt for Halliday’s hidden easter eggs), began to crack the vague clue. I think I enjoyed this book so much because it felt like I was piecing together a puzzle. I spent just as much time reading as I did contemplating the possible places keys could be found or how to clear any of the gates. Cline wrote Ready Player One in a way that made it difficult for me to ever put it down. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest ordering a copy on Amazon so you can begin the hunt as well. If you do read it, or have read it already, please tweet me with your thoughts or contact me on tumblr as I would love to discuss it! My brother is currently reading my copy and it’s so difficult for me to keep my mouth shut about what’s going to happen while he finishes.
The next activity I mentioned was cleaning, but since that is extremely uninteresting I’ll move along to the classic movie marathon my family has been having. I’ve always been a fan of old movies. I find the glamour and classiness of old Hollywood to be irresistible. The first night of the storm we watched Hitchcock’s Vertigo staring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. Stewart’s character Scottie is hired by his friend to tail his wife around town because he believes she has been possessed by a spirit. As I’m sure you’d imagine, chaos ensues as Scottie gets closer and closer to his subject, and his affliction with vertigo plays a major role in the outcome of his assignment. The next movie we watched was also done by Alfred Hitchcock, and is one of my personal favorites, Rear Window. Jimmy Stewart also stars in Rear Window, but this time he is an adventurous photographer confined to his apartment after he breaks his leg. He spends his time staring out his windows at his neighbors and gaining insight into their lives. It’s all fun and games until he believes that he may have witnessed a crime. With his the help of his companion, the lovely Grace Kelly, the duo collect evidence against their suspect and involve one of the local detectives. The movie is quite exciting and the ending really moves you to the edge of your seat as you watch the story unfold. The rest of my family hadn’t previously seen Rear Window so I was really happy that I was able to introduce them to it and share in their viewing experience. We’re also planning on watching another one of my favorites, Casablanca, several Audrey Hepburn films, and a few more Hitchcock masterpieces in the coming weeks.
This past weekend was Florida’s annual horror convention, Spooky Empire, and I just so happen to be visiting my best friend/blog partner Kristin during that time. I didn’t really know anything about the convention or what to expect while were heading there but I did notice that R.L. Stine was giving a Q&A Panel which was an event that I immediately knew I could not miss. I credit R.L. Stine with being the man who changed my childhood and made me love reading. When I was younger, there was nothing more exciting to me than acquiring a new Goosebumps book. My grandmother lived within walking distance of an independent bookstore called The Oaktree Bookstore (sadly, it’s no longer there), and every time I would visit her, we would walk there together and she would buy me a new Goosebumps book. I’ll never forget how overcome with happiness I had felt in those pre-internet days when I would walk into Oaktree, hurry over to the Goosebumps section and see that a new book had been released and added to R.L.’s shelf. After carefully choosing my next read, my Grandma and I would also buy candy from the card store, and then run back to her house where I would immediately begin my next horrific adventure. Whether it was a Halloween mask that adhered to it’s wearer, a ventriloquist dummy named Slappy who plays ill hearted pranks on his owners, a hamster named Cuddles who ingests Monster Blood, or a pair of lawn gnomes who wreak havoc while everyone sleeps, I could not get enough of Goosebumps. I owned and read all 62 of the original Goosebumps books in the series multiple times, took out all of the television adaptation VHS tapes from the library for multiple viewings, and collected every last Goosebumps trading card available. It’s been a long time since I was a child and experienced Goosebumps, but in that moment, at Spooky Empire, everything came flooding back to me as I shoved Kristin and yelled to her that R.L. Stine had just strolled past us on the show floor!
Kristin was shocked at my reaction and asked me how I was even sure that was R.L. since he was just nonchalantly walking around and chatting with fans in line for his panel, and I turned to her and desperately exclaimed that I just knew! I waited for him to finish his conversation and then nervously ran over to introduce myself and thank him for making my childhood so memorable. R.L. was friendly, and kind, and had an amazing sense of humor. I told him the story about my grandma and how he is responsible for getting me excited about reading. He thanked me for telling him and when I told him that I read all of his books, he said “hey and you turned out okay!” It was honestly a dream come true. It’s been 3 days since I met him and I still cannot stop talking about it every chance I get. But the reason R.L. Stine was in attendance was to promote his newest adult novel, Red Rain. He explained during the panel that all of his readers had grown up and he has become nostalgia. He didn’t like that feeling so he wrote a book to cater to all of his long time fans. He also informed us that he had spent so much time writing about good kids, that he thought it was time to write about some evil ones. Stine explained that while most people find children to be frightening, everyone finds twin children to be exceptionally scary. Even an actual twin he spoke too. He talked to us all about Goosebumps and Red Rain for nearly 90 minutes and I left feeling enthused and with a renewed love of my favorite childhood author. I was able to get a copy of Stine’s Red Rain at Book Expo last June, and it is now at the top of my reading list. I’ll let you all know how it is via Twitter and tumblr! So I’ll leave you, dear reader, with one of my favorite aspects of Goosebumps, their irresistible cover art :o)