Thursday, October 20, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

In today's installment of the comic panel Bliss, we see something that I'm surprised doesn't happen more often at the end of some productions of The Wizard of Oz!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

I am sure that Donald Trump is totally convinced that the mainstream media is run something like it's shown in this cartoon by Sean Delonas.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Most Important Kickstarter Campaign Oz Fans Can Ever Back!

Occasionally, I will post a Kickstarter campaign here, because there are a lot of good Ozzy ones out there. But there are also so many that I don't dare try to look at them all, or encourage you to back them. But this is probably the one Ozzy campaign that I can most emphatically say you must contribute to if you are at all capable of doing so: The Ruby Slippers.

Let me just say that again to make it real clear what this is: Conserving and preserving the Ruby Slippers, the pair used in The Movie at the Smithsonian Institution.

One more time, in case you still don't understand:

Conserving. The. Actual. Screen-Worn. Ruby. Slippers.

Have I made it clear now?

This is one of only four known pairs of the slippers in existence, and probably the most famous. They were the first pair auctioned off, at the famed 1970 MGM auction where they went for a then-astonishing price of $15,000 (that sure seems like a bargain today). They were later donated to the Smithsonian, where they became one of their most popular and visited exhibits. It turns out that being on display for thirty years under hot lights is taking its toll, and the sequins are deteriorating and discoloring. The Institution wants to conserve and restore the slippers, and create a state-of-the-art display case for them to preserve them for a long, long time to come. I got to see them a few years ago in Portland when the Smithsonian went on tour for its 150th anniversary, and it was a pretty special moment. The rest of the items were cool, too, but there is something about the Ruby Slippers that just made the whole thing that much better (but I may be biased).

The Smithsonian is looking for $300,000 over the next thirty days, and it looks like they're already off to a good start. But one can never assume anything with something like this. So if you can contribute, please do so. Then spread the word! We need not only Oz fans, but anyone interested in the Golden Age of Hollywood or American pop culture in on this. Let's get them that money ASAP so we can see what kind of stretch goals they offer! Just click your heels together three times right here to watch the video and see what kinds of goodies they have to offer.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Today's Classic Oz Comic

I started reading The Wizard of Id again after a few Oz references popped up, and then reading The Wizard of Id Classics when it started up, on the strip's fiftieth anniversary. So I was particularly tickled to see this classic strip today. What's even more amazing is that I believe this comic is referenced in an old edition of the "Oz in theNews" column from one of the Best of The Baum Bugle collections from the International Wizard of Oz Club.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

This week's reading from A New Wonderland was "The Punishment of Prince Zingle". I do kind of feel for the Prince, since he's the oldest son and next in line to be king, but since nobody dies in Phunnyland, he's in for a very long wait. Of course it takes a suggestion from the Purple Dragon for the prince to try and get rid of the king. But the king is a clever man and managed to find his way back to the throne, and thanks to the Wise Donkey (yes, the same one who later shows up in The Patchwork Girl of Oz), he metes out an appropriate punishment for Zingle. Short but sweet (in more ways than one), but I can't help but think that a better consequence might be to let Zingle be king for a while, just to show how much work it actually is. I'm also puzzled by a school in Phunnyland, complete with a well-stocked library of books. If the citizens of Phunnyland are immortal and never age, surely they all went through school already after a few years, and now there's no need for anyone to get a formal education anymore. (For that matter, since the landscape and flora of Phunnyland provide just about anything one can want, there's not a lot of need for the kind of economy that con be stimulated by being educated at school, I would think.)

Monday, October 10, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

Continuing with my reading of A New Wonderland, I reread "How the King Lost His Temper". This was an amusing little slice-of-life story about how a dog came to Phunnyland, met the king, and had a little adventure. Two things struck me. One is that the dog mentions, “…and I have come from a country beyond the mountains and the desert.” We already know about the mountains, of course, since Phunnyland is in a valley. But a desert? This is the first mention of it, and maybe it's the desert that surrounds Oz. (Unlikely, of course, since the writing of Tales from Phunniland predates The Emerald City—the story that would eventually be published as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—by about three years, but it's fun to speculate about. I know Martin Gardner made the same guess in his introduction to the Dover edition of The Magical Monarch of Mo. On the other hand, Toto is described as being the only dog anyone in Oz had ever seen. Plus, Prince, the dog in Phunnyland, ran away because of all the boys who tied tin cans to his tail, which I don't think could have happened in Oz because there don't appear to be tin cans there. But I appear to be wildly veering away from the point now…)

The other thought that struck me is that, had he been born a few years later, L. Frank Baum would have been a superb writer and creator for animated cartoons. The poor dog gets flattened, then rolled up thin, then squashed back into his original shape. I would love to see what Chuck Jones or Tex Avery or Ub Iwerks or some of those other early animators could have done with a series of shorts set in Phunnyland/Mo.

This is also the story where we really get to see what Phunnyland is made of— literally. The king walks on taffy and all kinds of candy, then wallows in the jelly mud. Sure, we had a taste (pun only partially intened) of this in the introduction, but here it's made very clear just how it all works, and what it means to live in Phunnyland.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

Way back when this whole weird, long election cycle began, I predicted there would be a lot more cartoons like this one from Sean Delonas. But the election is now only one month away (thank goodness!), and while I have no doubt there could be more like this, at least there won't be any after November 9 (unless cartoonists carry the theme over to talk about President Hillary Clinton, of course)!

Wicked in Brazil

The World Cup and the Olympics aren't the only big worldwide cultural events to have recently been staged in Brazil: So has Wicked! Yes, the stage show made its South American debut in Saõ Paolo last year, and it's still going strong. I can't recall if I've put up a video from it here yet or not, but in case I haven't, here's a snippet of "Ódio" in Portuguese:

Monday, October 03, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

My man in Japan, Michael-sensei, has found yet another Oz comic for us in today's edition of Stale Crackers, a title so obscure he admitted to me that he hadn't heard of it before. The cartoonist may think this is an extreme position for Nick Chopper, but he's actually had an encounter like it before, which L. Frank Baum himself chronicled in an edition of Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

I'm taking a sabbatical from my Oziana reread to go back to the very beginning, one of the very first things L. Frank Baum wrote as a fiction writer: A New Wonderland. He originally wrote this anthology of short stories as Tales from Phunnyland around 1896, but it wasn't published until 1900 with a titile hoping to cash in on Alice in Wonderland. That edition didn't stay in print long, but in 1903 his new publishers, Bobbs Merrill, issued an edited version with, among other changes, the name of the country now changed to Mo under the title The Magical Monarch of Mo. I have several copies of The Magical Monarch of Mo (even translations into Portuguese and Japanese), but I've always been curious about how it differed from A New Wonderland. I even bought a copy of a cheap, print-on-demand book purported to be A New Wonderland, only to be disappointed. (If you want to know more about my experience with that book, go read the one review at the link, as it's mine!) I never thought I'd get a copy for myself, as it was not, I understand, a terribly sturdy book, and copies now sell for thousands of dollars.

But a friend of mine is working on publishing a new edition, and is letting me preview the text. For this week's short story reading (to finally get to the reason I'm writing this and you're reading it), I read the introduction and the first story, "The King's Head and the Purple Dragon". (I will hastily add here that I have fairly recently reread The Magical Monarch of Mo, which in part inspired this series about short stories, but didn't comment on them here; I did comment on a handful that were in The Purple Dragon and Other Fantasies, however.) The introduction is quite a revelation, as Baum describes a lot of Phunnyland, which sounds a lot like his description of Mo, but also says it's so nice that visitors never leave! The only reason he came back was because he forgot something at home, and had to pick it up again before returning. (Considering how many things one can easily find in Phunnyland, usually growing from a tree, it would have to be something highly unusual or distinct to lure Baum back. My suspicion is that it was his wife, Maud, and being the strong-willed and practical woman that she was, I doubt she had any intention of going there herself or letting Frank go back, either!) The first proper story tells of how the Purple Dragon, after eating too much of the chocolate caramel crop, bit off the king's head. The poor king had to cope with a series of replacement heads until the Dragon decided to play a little mischief when he put the king's head on the shoulders of the woodcutter who had made the king's wooden replacement head. It all gets very silly as the king and the woodcutter try to figure out who is who, but all works out well in the end, everyone gets their proper heads back, the woodcutter marries one of the princesses, and the Dragon lives to become a nuisance another day (if I may give a small spoiler for some of the further stories). I suspect the Tin Woodman owes some of his origins to this story, for the king and the woodcutter having body parts replaced echoes the origins of Nick Chopper. The king's head on the woodcutter's body scene would be echoed, in a more existential manner, many years later in The Tin Woodman of Oz when the Tin Woodman has an encounter with his original head. Baum also does a nice job of creating the world of Phunniland and giving his readers a taste of what to expect in the forthcoming stories.

Today's Oz Comic

In today's Mother Goose and Grimm, Grimmy thinks he's about to have a possible encounter with an Oz character. He's in for a bit of a surprise, however. (Okay, yeah, this one isn't terribly Ozzy, but there is indeed a mention of an Oz character, so it counts!)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Oz in Jeopardy!

Yup, another Oz clue already, this one from the game of September 21 (and again, I'm on top of this so fast it's not even in the J-Archive yet). In the Jeopardy! round, the category is "Poly" Wanna, which means the letters "poly" will show up in the correct response. (Naturally, the following category was Cracker, but that doesn't enter into things here.) The $600 clue proved to be this:

Yup, a clue about one of the characters from a later Oz book, and it doesn't even mention Oz! Sharon, the challenger on the right, rang in first and correctly responded, "Who is Polychrome?" Unfortunately, she ran into a complete buzzsaw of a contestant in returning champion Seth, who went on to dominate yet again, so her extraordinary Oz knowledge didn't do her a lot of good.

This Week's Oz Poem

No, that's not a typo, as I have concluded my reading of the 1973 issue of Oziana with Frederick Otto's poetic rendition of The Patchwork Girl of Oz from his saga, The Oziad. It Oziana, Fred maintains that he is merely translating the traditional Oz folk poem into English from its Old Ozzish original. But I knew Fred and heard him recite many chapters of The Oziad at the Winkie Conventions, so if it really is a translation, it's a pretty loose one, and Fred injected a lot of his own droll, wry humor into it! It is otherwiso a pretty straightforward retelling of Scraps' first adventure, but Fred mercifully mentions a lot of the side incidents in rapid passing, and focuses on Ojo's quest to get the ingredients for the antidote for the Liquid of Petrifaction. It actually zips by pretty quickly, even for an Oziad.

Today's Oz Comic

Hmm, today in The Argyle Sweater, we seem to have found a previously unknown character. (An additional hmm, it seems Dorothy may be about to channel her inner Frogger!)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

My man in Japan, Michael-sensei, has found us another one! Today'sThe Gray Zone shows us what might happen in a sci-fi-based version of The Wizard of Oz.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

Drive is an awesome, sprawling space epic that also happens to have a very well-developed funny bone. And for some reason, it's printed in blue, not black. So you can imagine it's not terribly Ozzy, and it's not—but there is a very appropriate Oz reference in today's installment.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

This weekend I continued my reading of Oziana with the second story, "The Improbable Forest" by Harry Mongold from the 1973 issue. Technically speaking, it's not really a short story, but three chapters from the then-unpublished novel The Sawhorse of Oz. (Mongold would later go on to privately publish the entire novel in 1981, and yes, I have it. Hmm, maybe that could be something to throw onto the reread pile.) Fortunately for readers of Oziana over forty years ago, this excerpt works very well as a self-contained short story. The Sawhorse, having gotten separated from the rest of the adventure, is trying to find his way to Glinda's castle so she con intervene. (Considering how many times the Sawhorse has made that run from the Emerald City to Glinda's and back, he must have gotten way off course to forget the way!) HE wanders into the Improbable Forest, an area where unlikely things happen quite frequently. Among the denizens he meets is a sprite who may have been at least partially responsible for enchanting that forest in the first place. She recruits the Sawhorse to help defeat her nemesis, an enchanted green serpent. The Sawhorse, after a couple of little mini-adventures, finds the serpent, but things do not go anywhere near the plan! It all turns out well in the end, however, and the Sawhorse even manages to find his way to Glinda's as a result. I liked it, and remembered just enough of the complete novel to put it in its place. It's a good thing this takes place in an Improbable Forest, however, as the Sawhorse is pulling the Red Wagon the entire time! I find it highly improbable that the forest could be navigable for the Red Wagon, or that it didn't at least get all kinds of bumps and scrapes and scratches. But maybe the Improbable Forest had a way of making that easier. (Either that or the Sawhorse just has a lot of experience hauling that thing around in any conditions.)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Oz in Jeopardy!

No, unlike most of last season, I'm not going to waste any time posting Oz clues from Jeopardy! this season if I can possibly help it. For that matter, Jeopardy! didn't waste any time, either, posting a clue in only the fourth show of its thirty-third (!) season, in the game for September 15. (The only one falling behind here appears to be the Jeopardy! Archive website, which doesn't even have this game up yet!) It was the Double Jeopardy! round, in the category A Song In That Movie — they give the title of the song and the year, the players identify the movie. The very first clue uncovered, at the very top for $400, was:

Amy, the challenger on stage right, correctly responded, "What is The Wizard of Oz?" She did not, however, go on to win the game.

An Oz Project Looking for Funding

The Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas has been around for quite some time now, and they are looking to freshen up their entrance and make it really, truly Ozzy. So they've started a crowdfunding campaign over at to raise some of that money. They appear to be off to a good start, but with something like this, every little bit helps. So if you can give, go on over to and give a few dollars. I'm sure it will be worth the effort!