Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Latest Oz Short Story

I was so busy this weekend that I almost forgot to blog my weekly short story—or in this case, poem, as the final entry in the 1977 edition of Oziana is "A Map for Ruth Plumly Thompson" by Ruth Berman, an homage to the wide-sweeping geography Thompson used in her books, both in and around Oz, and out to the oceans.

I also want to bring up some of the little extras in this issue that add to the flavor. There are several little spot illustrations, for example. Bill Eubank's "Oz-E-Gag" is about the previous year's presidential election: Kabumpo is surrounded by Carter Farms Peanuts as the Wise Donkey says, "And I told Kabumpo, 'It's not wise to change ones' political party for—peanuts!'" (For those who may not remember, or are too young to have been there, before entering politics Jimmy Carter had been a peanut farmer.) There's a Highlights for Children-style "find the objects hidden in the picture" puzzle. And a spectacular cover illustration of Oogaboo. It may hold a special place in my heart because it was my first issue, but I also like to think that this issue truly shows off what Oziana could truly achieve with the right care and contributions.

Next week, 1978!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

The third and final story of the 1977 issue of Oziana is "Two Friendships" by Stanley Worden, and it was the one I remembered the least from when I first read this issue forty years ago. The two friendships in question are Xew, leader of the Hotsnaps, and Hiram the giant hyena, who have set out to conquer Oz; and Button-Bright and Polychrome, who stumble over their plans and try to stop them. This one doesn't strike me as being quite so polished or accomplished as the other two stories in this issue, but it has its charm. The Hotsnaps and their ski-dad'l are a fun new Ozian race, if a bit disagreeable; while their adversaries, the Klunks, are basically living machines and machine parts. They all add to the lore of Oz. Button-Bright proves to be clever and resourceful, and he and Polly come up with some clever tricks to stop Hiram and Xew. And of course everyone gets their just desserts in the end.

Today's Oz Comic

In today's edition of Brevity, Dorothy temporarily forgets which movie she's in. (Hmm, that might actually make for an interesting crossover/mash-up.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Today's Other Oz Comic

Over at The Argyle Sweater, it appears to be hay fever season in the Emerald City. (And yet the Scarecrow is stuffed with straw.)

Today's Oz Comic

Today over in Rhymes with Orange, Hilary Price gives us the inevitable consequences if the airlines ever get ahold of a certain pair of magic shoes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Today's Vaguely Oz-Related Comic

Okay, first, go check out today's edition of The Family Circus. That's a very good question, Billy. And the answer is, he did! Heck, you can even buy a handsome new reprint edition, or download a free .pdf file of it.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

The reading of the 1977 issue of Oziana continues with what may be the first ever Oz alternate history story, "What If They Had Taken The Other Path?" by Jay Delkin. This wonders what might have happened if, after encountering the Dragonettes towards the end of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, the party had taken the other path that actually (well, probably) led to the surface, instead of the one that led to a cul de sac and Ozma having to rescue them via Magic Belt. Naturally, this leads to a close encounter with the mother dragon, but also the Nome King and King Evardo XV of Ev. Delkin also finds a clever way to get the party back to Oz and dealing with the final chapters of the book in the Emerald City. It's a slight little story, but makes some interesting speculations.

Monday, April 03, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

My readings of Oziana continue with the 1977 issue, and boy, was this one a nostalgia trip, as it's the first issue I ever owned or read. I was still very new to the whole Oz scene (I had only joined the International Wizard of Oz Club earlier that year) and didn't even realize there was much Oz outside of the Famous Forty (not that there was a whole lot anyway, as the explosion of extracanonical Oz works was still to come). I had, however, bought and read my first Ruth Plumly Thompson story at that point, the Club's own Yankee in Oz. Good thing, too, because Jinnicky is in that one, which really helped me better understand the first story, "Glinda and the Red Jinn" by the late Robert R. Pattrick. Pattrick was one of the original members of the Club, and an early researcher on all kinds of Oz topics. Sadly, he died in 1961, so he didn't get to see the Club grow. But this little tale, which he claimed to have found as a manuscript in one of his books while organizing his collection, is an origin story for Jinnicky, and how a humble maker of jars and jugs got to learn red magic from Glinda and transform himself into the Red Jinn. Sadly, that's where it ends, although Pattrick (writing in 1955) hints that there was more to come, including how Jinnicky foiled the Nome King's invasion of Ev. Sadly, we will probably never get to see that story.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Why I Don't Do April Fools On This Blog Anymore

The other day, I said I'd tell you more about April Fools Day on this blog, and why I haven't tried to pull one off for ten years. I also said I'd do it yesterday, on the actual day. Well, yesterday was also my first true relaxing day off in ages, and it all just got away from me. So, a day late, the story of April Fools Day 2007! (I did talk about it a bit last year, but I hope this will be the definitive account.)

First, the set-up: in the spring of 2007, McDonald's had Wizard of Oz toys in their Happy Meals for the first time. These were miniature versions of eight Madame Alexander dolls, and they proved to be very popular. The Oz community online at the time was particularly interested, and lamented that there were only eight of them—and the Wizard wasn't one of them. I had plans for another April Fools joke that year, but I ran out of time and resources (I still don't, and the window has passed, so I may tell you about it next year). Then I thought about the McDonald's promotion and the timing of it, and the perfect joke hit me. This entry was the result, and I was pretty proud of it. I even backed it up with pictures from the Madame Alexander website. And like all April Fools jokes I've ever pulled online, I make it pretty clear, if you click on any links, that it is a joke. So if you read the "article" I cite, you'll be in on it pretty quickly. If you take time to think about it, too, it doesn't hold up, as the lead time needed to make, package, and distribute the new figures, as well as the need to alter everything to push the next promotion pack another week, would be a logistical nightmare.

At this time, this blog was so new that I'd only had one previous attempt at an April Fools joke (this one here, as it happens), and it hadn't had much impact; most people saw through it right away. So I was completely unprepared for how much my little jest made. Before long, many Oz websites, message boards, and the like were reporting on it as if it were real news. Clearly, several people were not checking on my "source" article. Further exacerbating things were the ones who did look for more than one source—all of which had got it from me, so that wasn't a lot of help. When I finally got word out to some of the sites, and people finally found the "this is an April Fools joke" disclaimer, there was a lot of negative feedback, and I was in the doghouse with some people for a bit.

After a few days, however, things settled down, and all seemed to go back to normal—that is, until the next issue of The Baum Bugle, the journal of the International Wizard of Oz Club, arrived a few weeks later. There, in an item on the Happy Meal toys, was the news that the promotion had been extended! Whoops! I immediately wrote to the editor (I don't think I even finished reading that issue before I hit my computer), and there was a retraction in the next issue, but that just showed me how much impact the joke had.

After that, I decided my blog was too powerful and influential, and I shouldn't post any more April Fools jokes. And I haven't since then; instead, I try to post a warning every March 31. But some year, if the perfect opportunity presents itself, I just may try again.

About a year and a half later, and nowhere near April 1, McDonald's repeated the promotion, but this time there were twelve, and one of them was indeed the Wizard. No Mayor yet, but I did offer McDonald's and Madame Alexander a few ideas for future promotions right here. I would hope my all-too-successful April Fools joke had something to do with that, but I have my doubts.

A few years ago, thinking the whole thing had finally run its course, it reared its head again at the Winkie Convention (now known as OzCon International, come on over to Portland at the end of June for this year's edition!). I was on a panel about Oz blogs when the moderator posted my Happy Meal joke post and asked for the story. So I had to recount the whole saga again. But now that the definitive story is here, maybe that will be the end of it at last.

But I wouldn't bet on it!

Today's Oz Comic

Once again, One Big Happy trots out a familiar alternative name for the cash machine at the bank.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Today's Oz Comic

Over in today's Six Chix, a lost traveler finds a possible route to—well, probably not home, but definitely towards adventures! (How come things like that don't happen to me when I go out for a walk?)

Friday, March 31, 2017

My Friendly Annual Warning

I just want to remind people that tomorrow (well, for most people around the world and now even here in the United States, today) is April Fool's Day. So please, please, I beg of you, be very careful of what you read tomorrow. It may not be true, but if you truly believe you want it to be true, and you are then disappointed, please don't say I didn't warn you.

In case you're wondering if I'm going to pull off a joke tomorrow, I can tell you, in all honesty, that the answer is no. And I will tell you why tomorrow.

Today's Oz Comic

Today in Bound and Gagged, good new for the Tin Woodman. (Wait, shouldn't that be the Scarecrow who wants to go there?)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Today's Oz Comic

Today in Pop Culture Shock Therapy, Dorothy farms her skills out to other classic storybook characters. This is another one of those that's so obvious, you're surprised nobody ever thought of it before.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

Yup, I missed another week, thanks to work keeping me very busy last weekend. But now things are in better shape, and I can return to reading a story a week. So this week I wrapped up the 1976 issue of Oziana with "the Lost Sawhorse" by Phyllis Karr, illustrated by Nathan Flower. It's a pretty straightforward little tale about Dorothy and the Wizard going out into the Winkie Country to find the Sawhorse, who has gone missing. But it proves to be a little more complicated when the Magic Picture can't find him, but only focuses on one particular farm. Yes, there's a bit of a mystery in this story as well, so I dare not say much more, as it would give a lot away, but s happens in most Oz stories, all turns out ell in the end. But I sure wouldn't want to go through what the Sawhorse went through, nor the Tin Woodman's part in it!

As this is the final story of this issue, I must mention one other contributor to this issue, Bill Eubank. His wonderful illuminated Oz letters, used for many years at the start of articles in TheBaum Bugle, make their first appearance here on the cover, looking nice and large. (Too bad K, L, M, and N have the cover's fold and staples down the middle.) And he also contributed another "Oz-E-Gag" cartoon with Linus and Snoopy standing outside of Jack Pumpkinhead's house, and Jack says, "Look, just tell the kid with the blanket I'm not 'The Great Pumpkin'."

Next week, it's a very special edition of Oziana, at least for me.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Extra Ozzy TV Episode of the Week

Just in case you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend this week's episode of The Flash, "Duets". It's a crossover with Supergirl, and it's a musical! No, no, don't turn away yet! Grant Gustin (who plays Barry/The Flash) and Melissa Benoist (who plays Kara/Supergirl) both got their start on Glee, so they have musical chops. Several other actors from both shows, and Arrow, also have musical backgrounds, and they make the best use of them. (My fellow Doctor Who fans will especially appreciate John Barrowman doing his thing.) So why am I writing about it here? Because it turns out Supergirl's favorite musical is The Wizard of Oz, and she makes about a half-dozen references to it. So watch, enjoy!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Today's Oz Comic

And the hits just keep coming! Today in Frazz, yet another kid gets traumatized by a certain set of winged simians.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Today's Oz Comics

When it rains, it pours! Two turned up in my local paper today:

  • One is this edition of One Big Happy where Ruthie compares a suspicious but probably innocent TV spokesperson to a couple of creepy things. I'll leave it to you to decide which one is Ozzy.
  • And Tundra sees Dorothy taking Toto to the vet. Now, Tundra helps out the papers that run it by not putting their strips up online right away, but I'm sure it will eventually show up in the March archives I've linked to above. But there's nothing wrong with me describing the strip (I hope): A wide-eyed Toto is an an examination table with the helpfully captioned "The Veterinary of Oz" on one side and Dorothy looking a little worried on the other. The vet says, "He's pretty backed up. I think we're going to have to call Toto Rooter." EWWW!

Yesterday's Oz Comic

I had a very long day yesterday, and thus didn't have time to post the latest Oz comic discovery by Michael-sensei: Wrong Hands picks up on some similar movie themes.