Thursday, February 11, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

It's a pity that Looks Good on Paper is not one of those comics that prints its online edition in color. Otherwise, we could see what color Dorothy's shoes are. (Also, as some of the commenters have noted, those aren't condos!)

Sunday, February 07, 2016

This Week's Oz Short Story

Another example from American Fairy Tales, included in The Purple Dragon and Other Fantasies by L. Frank Baum, is "The Magic Bonbons", a light little bonbon (if you'll pardon the expression) of a tale in which Claribel Sudds commissions some magic bonbons that can turn her into a great performer, as she wants to go into showbiz. She leaves them behind while shopping, however, and thus they fall into the hands of a respectable Boston family. Needless to say, chaos and troubles ensue as the family members and their guests consume the bonbons. Not a lot actually happens, except a bunch of stuffed shirts are made to look foolish. At least Claribel learned her lesson, as she kept better track of her second batch and became a successful vaudevillian. As fun as it was, I can't help but think that there may have been some better choices for a story from American Fairy Tales.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

Well here's an interesting phenomenon: The cartoon aimed at a local audience, about a local issue. David Fitzsimmons draws for the Arizona Star, so it wasn't too hard to figure out that what's going on in this cartoon is that Governor Doug Ducey is very likely taking his marching orders from the Koch brothers, and thus how he is depicted in the cartoon.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

We are going to see a lot of biting political cartoons in the run-up to the November election (why does it take us so long for us to elect a president???), and here's the latest Oz one, from Lisa Benson.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

When I saw today's Red and Rover in my local paper today, I really wanted to see what it looked like in color, just to see if any green dye was involved. Nope. But it sure gives me a good idea of something to do when the next big snow hits here (probably not until next winter now, though).

Monday, February 01, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

All I will say about today's Pop Culture Shock Therapy is: Wow, that's two movies I never thought I'd see mashed up together!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Latest Oz Short Story

Yup, I'm still slowly working my way through The Purple Dragon and Other Fantasies by L. Frank Baum. This week, it was another classic from American Fairy Tales, "The Queen of Quok". This is a fun little story about the dangers of riotous living, as the King of Quok squanders the entire national treasury doing just that. I gather that the scheme the councillors come up with—auctioning the king off to a rich woman who will replenish the treasury—was a satirical bent on a popular practice in the early twentieth century. And since the new King of Quok is only ten, he's really unhappy with this. Fortunately, magic comes in and saves the day. I think Baum was much more clearly aiming these stories at an older, wiser audience than his earlier children's stories, but there's a lot for kids to enjoy as well. Then there's the length of time it would take to count out over a million dollars in quarters. (Hmm, as a math teacher, maybe I should pose that to a class some time.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Latest Oz Short Story

I'm falling a little behind in my attempts to read an Oz short story a week. In fact, I've already decided to put this little project on hold once I've finished The Purple Dragon and Other Fantasies by L. Frank Baum, just because I'm so busy with other things right now. But I still have a few stories to go in The Purple Dragon, the most recent being "The Glass Dog" from American Fairy Tales. Purple Dragon editor David Greene quite rightly points out that these are darker, more cynical stories aimed at an older audience than his previous efforts. Much of "The Glass Dog" is about the shallowness and greed of humanity, and how what you want may not be what you need. The wizard who brings the glass dog to life comes out best in the end, but he's not particularly sympathetic, either, so it just makes everyone look bad.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

Today is my birthday, so the comics page celebrated with an Oz comic. Take a look at today's Eek! for a meeting that everyone should have seen coming, but I think this is the first time it's actually happened.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

Having followed the Flint water crisis for some time now, I am not at all surprised to see Michigan Governor Snyder lampooned in this way by Bill Day. I would contend, however, that Snyder needs to make three trips to the Wizard, not just one: One for the brain that he needed to not let this happen in the first place, and one for the courage he needs to show now and fix this, and then resign.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Latest Oz Comic

At last, the third series of Zenescope's let's-just-do-Oz-our-way-and-completely-ignore-all-of-the-better-versions-that-came-before-it Oz series, "Reign of the Witch Queen", has finished with issue #6. As one would expect, the wicked witch is defeated, Dorothy rejects evil and embraces good, and all is right again. And this time, it looks like it's going to stay that way, although there is a "No Place Like Home" one-shot announced for a release very soon. To be honest, I hope Zenescope leaves Oz alone. I'm not wild about their take on the country, nor on their over-the-top exaggerated body image of their female characters that happen to wear as few clothes as possible. But worst of all is that their version of Oz is no different from any other high fantasy land. The writers are trying to cram in all the Tolkein and Campbell they can, but not Baum! However, considering much Zenescope can wring out of a property, I suspect they'll be back before too long.

This Week's Oz Short Story

This week's short story from The Purple Dragon and Other Fantasies by L. Frank Baum was "Three Wise Men of Gotham". Much like last week's "The Wond'rous Wise Man", it has a lot to do with appearance, perception, and reputation clashing with reality. But this time there are three of them, and they all at least know they are frauds. This invokes not only the Wizard in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but also Kwytoffle in The Enchanted Island of Yew and the Whimsies in The Emerald City of Oz. The character who kept coming to mind more than any other, however, was the Frogman in The Lost Princess of Oz. Like these wise men from Mother Goose in Prose, he knew he wasn't any wiser than anyone else, but everyone thought he was and treated him that way, so he acted the part.

That was the last of the stories from Mother Goose in Prose, so next week starts some from American Fairy Tales and one bonus story.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Today's Follow-Up Oz Comic

In today's PreTeena rerun, Stick follows up with her actual audition piece from yesterday. She sounds pretty good, actually!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Today's Oz Comic

Just a quick mention of a very famous Ozzy song in today's PreTeena rerun.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

The Latest Oz Short Story

Another of the "Tales of Mother Goose" from The Purple Dragon and Other Fantasies by L. Frank Baum, this one "The Wond'rous Wise Man". You can see the germ of such characters as the Wogglebug, the Frogman, and even bits of The Wizard in this story, in that Solomon, the title character, isn't quite so wise as everyone perceives him to be, and much of his "wisdom" is just common sense, but it still startles other people. So is Baum commenting more on people who claim to be wise but aren't, or the gullibility and delusions of others? I suspect the answer lies somewhere in between.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

Yes, we have here, from Paul Fell, another cartoon commenting on the current presidential election, and this one isn't even about Hilary Clinton. Go take a look, and remember that these cartoons are presented for Oz content only, and should not be taken as either agreement nor disagreement with the views espoused. And although I haven't had to do it yet, I probably should also mention that I preview all comments, and any in poor taste (language, disparaging others, etc.) will be deleted and not see the light of day.

The Latest Oz Reading

I'm not in one of my usual cycles of Oz reading right now, but when the latest edition of Dunkiton Press Arrived at my house right before Christmas, I carved out a little time to read this, Ruth Berman's fourth collection of Ruth Plumly Thompson's Perhappsy Chaps stories as they first appeared in the Philadelphia Public Ledger. This time around, the Chaps have adventures at an old mill, help newlyweds make a new home, go to the gym, teach a boy how to swim, and deal with drying laundry. Plus, Kirsten MacLeod reports on the discovery of some previously unknown Frederick Richardson illustrations. Any fans of Oz ephemera, especially Ruth Plumly Thompson, should be a regulap reader of Dunkiton Press. More casual Oz fans, however, probably don't need these — but at the price Berman is charging, it may be worth it anyway!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Latest Oz Short Story

Yup, still working my way through The Purple Dragon and Other Fantasies by L. Frank Baum. I finished "Tales from Phunnyland" last weekend, and so "Old King Cole" was the first story from the second section, "Tales from Mother Goose". These are, of course, taken from Mother Goose in Prose, Baum's first published book. While reading "Old King Cole", I was reminded of how Bud became King of Noland in Queen Zixi of Ix, as Cole's kingship is equally random. In both this story and Queen Zixi, however, the odd ways of finding a king seem to work out, for both show some wise outside-of-the-box thinking in how to deal with both settling disputes and matters of court, and both have lasting positive reputations. Baum is well known for borrowing liberally from himself, and this may be one of the earliest examples. "Old King Cole" is a delightful little story, if somewhat slight, and does a nice job explaining who Old King Cole is and how he came to call for all that stuff. He also reminds me of Rinkitink and some of Baum's other king (and, come to think of it, some of Thompson's, too).

Yesterday's Boxing Day Oz Comic

According to yesterday's edition of Close to Home, a certain popular series of books may have found its target audience. (Thanks yet again to Michael-sensei for spotting this.)

Friday, December 25, 2015

More Oz Books I've Read Not So Long Ago

I've fallen a little behind on updating you on what I've been reading, but I have a bit of time right now, so I may as well do the update. Back in my last round of reading, you may have seen my reread of The Emerald Wand of Oz. So of course this time around I read it's sequel, Trouble Under Oz, also by Sherwood Smith. Unlike Emerald Wand, I remembered almost nothing of this book, so I'm glad I read it again! Thanks to a blizzard, Em and Dori are stuck at home when they're summoned to Oz to find out what is up with Nome Prince Rik. But someone has to stay behind and deal with calls from Mom, Dad, and the neighbors checking up on them. Dori goes, leaving Em to head everyone off at the pass. Ozma enlists the aid of Prince Inga of Pingaree, and he joins Dori and Rik on a number of adventures. Kaliko diverts them to the Mangaboo Country, and they also end up visiting the Valley of Voe before Rik finally tries to take over the Nome Kingdom. This proves to be easier than imagined, as Kaliko abdicates! Weary is the head that wears a crown, however, and it turns out that being King of the Nomes isn't a lot of fun — and then the Dinods, Hizzers, and Phanfasms all decide to invade! Needless to say, all eventually gets resolved, and Rik makes a few hard decisions, but a lot happens! And back in Kansas, the weather is clearing up. Despite all the visits to old places created by L. Frank Baum, this was a rollicking good read, and I enjoyed it a lot. Smith also does a great job of developing Inga as a character being groomed to rule his own country who is trying to impart those lessons onto another. But he's still the same kid we saw avenge the invasion of his home back in Rinkitink in Oz as well.

One big reason I wanted to read these two books is because a third book is available at last! Smith's series was originally conceived of as a series of four books, but poor sales and some behind-the-scenes issues meant that only the first two books were ever released. But over at his Pumpernickel Pickle Press, Marcus Mébès offered to publish a third volume that would tie things up, notably the disappearance of Dorothy. And thus Sky Pyrates over Oz came out last year. This time around, not only do both girls get to go again, Dad comes along, too. Unfortunately, Dad gets turned into a dog pretty early on, but he manages to cope with things pretty well. After adventures on land in The Emerald Wand of Oz, and underground in Trouble Under Oz, this time they take to the air on a visit to a number of flying islands. One of the first places they visit has one of the six snub-nosed princesses from Sky Island as a co-ruler, so you know this won't be easy! Throughout their whole adventure, however, the clouds that have been threatening things in all the books get bigger and darker and more ominous, until Glinda, Ozma, Dori, and Em must finally face the Nightmare Sorcerer, the ruler of the Kingdom of Dreams. And he is both determined and powerful. This was another rollicking adventure, and I'm very happy that a way was found to wrap things up (spoiler: Yes, Dorothy is found). But there are enough hints to a fourth adventure that maybe Em and Dori can go underwater in the not too distant future. Kim McFarland does a great job with the illustrations, taking over from William Stout, and does one thing Stout never managed to do: Give us an illustration of Rik! My biggest complaint about this book is that the titular Sky Pyrates don't appear until the book is well over alf over, and even then we don't see a lot of them, because what little we do see is great. (I won't spoil it by telling you more, except I will say that they are good guys, very much cut from the same cloth as Samuel Salt.) Heck, I'd love to see a story of just their adventures.