Strictly speaking, today's edition of The Argyle Sweater isn't Ozzy, but a celebrity very closely associated with Oz is. I'm sure you'll know who it is once you get there. But, if you ask me, they gave her the wrong carol to sing, since she was the one who first introduced the world to this one:
Friday, December 14, 2018
Monday, December 10, 2018
Sunday, December 09, 2018
I'm taking a break from The Lost Tales of Oz this weekend to present a very brief story, "The Troublesome Party of Oz" by Nick Campbell, which recently arrived with the annual Christmas card from the International Wizard of Oz Club, an organization I have now been a member of for over forty years. The card often cowes with humorous pondering on Christmas in Oz or musings on Oz books that could have been, but this is the first time I recall it coming with a short story! As the events of The Tin Woodman of Oz are wrapping up, the Shaggy Man is delivering his report via the magic telegraph (as first mentioned in the introduction of The Patchwork Girl of Oz) as Dorothy stops in, disappointed that there won't be a royal wedding and reception party. Suddenly, the telegraph goes haywire, and for the first time it's not a message from Mr. Baum! The first part of the message is lost, but it's obvious that someone is coming to the Emerald City for a visit. So, the cancelled wedding reception is quickly turned into a welcoming banquet for whoever it may be. The weather in the Emerald City starts getting windy and cold, however, and Dorothy even predicts that it might snow! Sure enough, the next morning, the whole city is blanketed in white, and Ozma almost cancels the party—until the snow speaks to her! Sure enough, the snow is the visitor. To facilitate communication, Ozma and Dorothy make snowmen, and the party goes on as an outdoor winter fair.
I have little to add, other than that it was a fun piece, and I hope this starts a trend of more stories in future Christmas cards. This was a nice touch!
Saturday, December 08, 2018
In preparing for the first ever Poppin Poppies Parade, the Cowardly Lion goes off to find a few more poppies to finish the float of Ozma that Dorothy and the gang are putting together. He finds them behind a fence, and the float is finished. But the Lion is so tired he lies down for a little nap. Wilhelmina, working on another float nearby, figures out that the poppies come from her aunt's quarantined poppy field, and put people to sleep! Sure enough, Dorothy, Toto, Ozma, and just about everyone else also succumb. Quickly flying back to her castle, Wilhelmina consults her aunt in the crystal ball and figures out that with everyone asleep, she can get the Ruby Slippers. The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, however, also figure out what's going on, and wake Dorothy up just enough to get the Ruby Slippers to take them all to Glinda's castle. Glinda puts a bubble around Dorothy, reviving her, but then the poppy pollen hits Glinda! Wilhelmina, Frank, and Lyman, with clothespins on their noses to keep from inhaling the pollen, can't find Dorothy or the Slippers, so they take over the castle and try on Ozma's clothes, play around with her PA system, and generally make pests of themselves. But eventually they head back over to the floats, where Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tin Man have enclosed the float in a bubble, cutting off the pollen. (Toto and the Lion are still asleep!) Wilhelmina and the monkeys, having removed their clothespins, still manage to kidnap Dorothy, but the Tin Man still has some poppies in his chest, and the Scarecrow blows the pollen up towards them. They breathe it in, fall asleep, and everything is tidily wrapped up. The parade goes on, but now they really are floats, all encased in Glinda's bubbles. And on the float shaped like a banana, Wilhelmina, Frank, and Lyman can be seen peacefully sleeping.
All I will say is, this was another fun one. I'm not sure exactly how the poppy pollen works (couldn't it even get out of their quarantine enclosure?), but that's just a story telling device. And this may be the strongest indicator yet that Wilhelmina doesn't really want to be wicked, she just doesn't know what else to do, especially under the influence of her beloved auntie.
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Sunday, December 02, 2018
This week's story from The Lost Tales of Oz is "Ali Cat in Oz" by Sam Sackett. In case that name is familiar, he was one of the co-authors of last week's story. This works out very well, as Ali is the cat that the Wizard found on the streets of New York and adopted. This story follows on directly from that, with Ali getting used to being in Oz and the Emerald City (it even takes him a while to figure out that he can talk). Having Toto and Bungle around take some getting used to as well! He doesn't have too long to figure out the Emerald City before he's carried away by a gryphon! Naturally, he escapes, but now he's somewhere in the wilds of Oz and must find his way back to the Emerald City. A farm couple take him in, but lock him in a barn to catch mice, which the mice certainly object to. He escapes, encounters some fish that also don't want to be eaten, and then comes to Fussbudget Municipality, which isn't very far, as you may guess, from Flutterbudget Center. Since the Fussbudgets want to shave Ali, he decides this isn't a place for him, either. Ali next comes to Kitty City, another Oz town inhabited by cats (this story implies that there are several). He doesn't get along with the Boss Cat, however, and wanders off again. He evetually finds a yellow brick road and catches a bus to the Emerald City, He finally wanders back into the Wizard's apartment, where he relates his adventures to his new friend.
Again, it's just a few adventures, but it sure is a great way for Ali to find out a little bit more about his new home and the rules of being a cat in it. There's also a subplot about how Ozma and the Wizard help Queen Ann of Oogaboo from getting restless again, but I'll leave that one alone for the readers to discover.
Saturday, December 01, 2018
For once, they succeeded: This episode opens with Frank and Lyman stealing Ozma's magic mirror! While the gang in the Emerald City is looking for it—they even go to the Emerald City Lost and Found, which has all kinds of other interesting things—Wilhelmina looks in the mirror and is immediately entranced. She's so unresponsive, Lyman is afraid he'll never share a banana malted with her! Her reflection eventually turns into an even more twisted, evil version of Wilhelmina. Frank and Lyman see no other way of helping her; they have to get help from Dorothy! Leaving a trail of banana peels, Dorothy and the gang follow them to Wilhelmina's castle, where theyfigure out what's going on. No problem, move the mirror. Whoops, they break it, releasing the reflection! Wilhelmina snaps out of her trance, and when the reflection turns on her, she tries to stop it with her magic. But everything bounces off! In desperation, Wilhelmina turns to Dorothy for help, who realizes the only way to stop her bad reflection is for Wilhelmina to do good things. This does not make Wilhelmina happy, but she does it anyway, and the reflection begins to shrink, even as its terrorizing the Ozian countryside. Eventually, she has to perform one last good deed, but Dorothy is out of ideas. So Wilhelmina comes up with the last one: Sharing a banana malted with Lyman. She even gives him the cherry on the top. That does it, and Wilhelmina's reflection at last disappears in a puff of green smoke.
This was a fun one, especially the montage of Wilhelmina doing good deeds, which for some reason all end with something eating her. She saves Ojo from the Hungry Tiger—who then eats her. She helps an old lady bear across the yellow brick road, through a bunch of Wheelers— and then the bear eats her. Even giving a daisy to a little girl ends with her getting eaten by a large plant, reminiscent of the ones that ate Ojo and company in The Patchwork Girl of Oz. But alls well that ends well, and watching Dorothy and Wilhelmina team up was actually a lot of fun. I have a sneaking suspicion Wilhelmina isn't quite as bad as she thinks she is, she's more a victim of her circumstances and the influence of her aunt. And since I haven't mentioned it before, I'll now bring up her nickname for Dorothy: Pigtails!
Thursday, November 29, 2018
Friday, November 23, 2018
Yup, i managed to read the next story in The Lost Tales of Oz, which was "The Wizard in New York" by Sam Sackett and Joe Bongiorno. The Wizard decides to visit America to see what new inventions have been created, thinking he can incorporate some of their ideas into his own work. It's 1939, and he's going to the World's Fair! It gets off to a slow start, with his explanations to Ozma and, later, Glinda as to why he wants to go, and he makes preparations. The one piere of magic he takes with him is a magic wallet that's always full of current American money, and that will return to him if he loses it, which probably proved to be a surprise to the pickpocket who lifts it at one point in the story! Once he arrives in New York, he has to acclimatize himself; a lot changed in less than forty years! But the Wizard is a smart guy and managed to figure out a lot. He even took in a movie, a recently released film called The Wizard of Oz! (While the Wizard appreciated the spectacle, and thought Frank Morgan did a good job portraying him, overall he thought it was a lot of sizzle without much steak.) He also adopts a cat, who a kindly bellboy and aspiring actor at his hotel helps him to hide. Once he gets to the fair, it's not much more than a travelogue as he tours the various exhibits, but he's also heard a lot of news on the radio, and is worried about this Hitler fellow and what Germany and the Soviet Union will do to the state of the world. He also has conversations with many interesting people, but it's his final chat with a janitor (and as one would likely expect at that time, he was African-American) that convinces the Wizard that the Outside World doesn't hold a lot of appeal for him anymore, and he's best off staying in Oz and keeping it Ozzy.
On the surface, like I said earlier, this seems to be little more than a travelogue about the Wizard's adventures. But there's enough about what's going on in Oz that makes me wonder if this is also meant to be a bridge between the Neill books and Oz getting back on a less chaotic path once Jack Snow took over as Royal Historian. The scalawagons come up (which works in the timeline if one considers that Oz books must take place some time before they are written; thus, 1941's The Scalawagons of Oz could easily take place in 1939, before the start of World War II in Europe), but the Wizard realizes they may not be his most successful invention. His trip to New York was meant to inspire new inventions, but instead it discourages him. In that context, the story works well. The World's Fair itself seems to be well researched, too, and the Wizard's reactions ring very true to me. His interactions with the New Yorkers is also great, and surprisingly, despite all their problems, none of them want to take the Wizard up on his offer to take them to his home (not that he actually tells them where that is), because New York is such a great place. And in 1939, I suspect it was!
Again, I have no idea if I'll be able to read the next story before next weekend, but I'm going to give it a shot, and if so, it will be a follow-up to this story!
While cloud watching, Dorothy reminisces about snow in Kansas and how much fun it was. The rest of the gang are intrigued, as they've never heard of snow. (Wait, then what was that stuff that woke them up in the poppy field in The Movie???) Ozma finds her magic snow globe and makes it snow in Emerald City, and officially declares it Snow Day. Everyone has fun in the snow, including turning the Tin Man into a toboggan. Wilhelmina gets jealous, and wants the snow to be about her, not that brat Dorothy. So, sure enough, she finds the snow globe when the Tin Man drops it and threatens to keep the snow going forever. Ozma and Dorothy whip up a tornado, however, to get rid of the snow, and all is right again. Wilhelmina uses the snow globe in her castle, which then immediately fills with snow, which isn't that much fun for her.
Even for this show, this was a pretty slight little story. Forgetting about snow is far and away the biggest break from The Movie this show has made, too. Wilhelmina's just a spoiled, jealous brat, and otherwise not much else happens! This may be the weakest episode in the series so far.
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Dorothy, Ozma, and the gang are enjoying a picnic by the Truth Pond, which causes you to speak the truth while you're in it (so, not quite as bad as it is in the books). The Lion eats most of the pie, leaving only one slice left for Dorothy and Ozma. Not a problem, Ozma has brought along the Copy Cat, a glass cat statue that will duplicate anything you ask it to. Ozma creates two more slices, but then the Lion creates a mountain of them! (Hmm, maybe for story purposes they should have had the Hungry Tiger along in this story.) Wilhelmina, spying on them, decides to steal the Copy Cat and, at her aunt's urging, create an army of flying monkeys. Frank and Lyman steal it, but on the way back spot a lone banana on a tree and copy it. They eat more bananas than they've ever had in their lives, and can barely fly. Getting back to the castle, Wilhelmina smells their banana breath and decides to duplicate someone cleverer and better looking than the monkeys—herself! Before too long, there's a Wilhel-army attacking the Emerald City. Dorothy uses the Ruby Slippers to get everyone out, and so all the Wilhelminas have nothing to look for. There's one problem: All the Wilhelminas all think they're the original, and want to be in charge! Eventually, however, they get their stuff together and go searching for Dorothy all through Oz. Meanwhile, in Munchkinland, the gang hatches a plan: Any fake Wilhelminas touching the Truth Pond will disappear. So they create a fake pair of Ruby Slippers as bait, and put them on a lily pad in the Truth Pond. Sure enough, most of the Wilhelminas get wet and go poof. But four are left, and discover that the slippers they're going after are fake, so Dorothy perches herself up on the top of the fountain in the Truth Pond to attract them. Just as they're about to get her, she clicks her way out, they crash, all fall into the Pond, and three disappear. The final, real Wilhelmina is sitting there, telling all kinds of unpleasant truths to herself, getting totally wet.
For a show that generally plays things for laughs, this may be the biggest romp of an episode yet, and that's saying something. The creators of this show clearly had fun with the rules of the Truth Pond and how multiple Wilhelminas would get along (not well, as it turns out). But there is one big dangling thread: What happened to the Copy Cat itself? Last we saw Wilhelmina still had it, so maybe she can still cause some mischief with it.
I only have a handful of stories to go in The Lost Tales of Oz. Unfortunately, some of them are quite long, including the collection's second novella. Since my time is limited, I'm going to skip around a bit and read the shorter ones when I don't have so much time, and te longer ones when I do. Ii's even possible that I may start in with Oziana again before I'm done with this book. So, this weekend the story was "Quiet Victory" by Marcus Mébès. It's another little slice-of-life story about Allegro da Capo, better know to readers of The Road to Oz as the Musicker and now living in the Quadling Country. He's learned to control his breathing in a way that he doesn't make as much music now, and he has befriended a kindred spirit in Victor Columbia Edison, the phonograph accidentally brought to life in The Patchwork Girl of Oz. This story hints at Edison having a lot of adventures after we last saw him, including an extended stay with the Red Jinn. When he meets the Musicker, he's in sad shape. But da Capo repairs him, replaces one of his legs, and puts a new record on that proves to be much more palatable than what he had before. There are hints at future adventures for the pair as the Musicker hopes to replace his lungs and larynx with ones that make him sound normal, and he also hope to integrate Edison back into society again. It's a fun little tale, but I'll be honest, I think I would have preferred something about some of the hinted back stories for both characters.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
A couple of quickies:
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Monday, November 12, 2018
Next up in The Lost Tales of Oz is "The Scrap Bag Circus of Oz" by M. A. Berg. This is a short little slice-of-life tale in which the Sawhorse and the Patchwork Girl discover a circus made up of stuffed animals. And it turns out they're related to Scraps, since Margolotte made all of them, too, not realizing that some Powder of Life had gotten into her bag of stuffing! She gave the toys away to children, but the mothers weren't too happy about independent toys that didn't always want to snuggle with the children at bedtime, so they struck out on their own and formed a circus. Not much else happens, except Scraps and the Sawhorse get to see a performance. It's a nice little story, and a pleasant little breather before the epic tale of—no, that would be telling. But I'm not certain that I can read it before the end of next weekend, so I may have to skip a week. (I know, every time I say that I figure out a way to squeeze one in, but I can't promise that I can do that every week!)
As the Lollipop Guild are preparing for the annual Munchkin Cookie Festival, Lion decides to sample some of the product, and the Scarecrow shuts down production in the factory while trying to make it more efficient. This does not make the Mayor happy, but Dorothy offers to make the rest of the cookies in the Emerald City. They only have a few hours, and even with the gang all working at full steam it's looking tight. A last minute sweep of the kitchen turns up all kinds of extra supplies, including a cookie cutter with a warning label. No time to read it, keep making cookies! Just in time, the cookies are done, but the gingerbread men come to life and run away! Whoops, that was a magic cookie cutter! They keep running down the yellow brick road and running into creatures that want to eat them, so they think they'll finally be safe in the next town they come to. Trouble is, it's Munchkinland, and the Munchkins want their cookies! Yeah, this isn't their day! Eventually, however, Dorothy brings the rest of the cookies, and a gingerbread village is constructed for the gingerbread men. All seems to be good—and then the Lion starts eating the gingerbread houses!
This was another silly, frothy little story, with overtones of John Dough and the Cherub but not much else. Still, it was another fun one, and Dorothy's efforts to protect the gingerbread men once they come to life are touching and very much in character. And that concludes the first season of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. Good thing I also now have the second season on the DVR! By the time I'm done with that, maybe Boomerang will have shown the third, where the Wizard finally turns up!
Saturday, November 10, 2018
The Senate election in Arizona is close, and it looks like there will be a recount, so of course David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Star in Tucson has some Ozzy commentary, casting Democratic candidate Krysten Sinema in the role of Dorothy.
Sunday, November 04, 2018
This week's offering from The Lost Tales of Oz is "Diplomatic Immunity" by David Tai, a story that I've actually read before, when Tai and I were corresponding for a bit. Discovering a new and foreign source of magic in the Gillikin Country, Ozma sends out Betsy Bobbin and Trot as diplomats to inform them of the law, and ask them to stop. Much to Trot's surprise, it's Sky Island! It's ability to float has stopped, and it's landed in Oz. As Queen of Sky Island, Trot must look out for the best interests of her people, so she sides with Rosalie and Ghip-Ghisizzle who are trying to get the island working right again, putting her at odds against Betsy. Unable to leave the island, Betsy manages to escape into the fog bank that divides the island and at least tries to do part of her job and get the giant frogs who live there to allow the Blues and the Pinks to come in and do what needs to be done. The Frog King, however, is still not happy about anyone coming in, but agrees if Betsy will marry his son! This is too much for Betsy, so she escapes, and eventually helps fix Sky Island with the help of the Frog Prince (who wasn't wild about marrying her, either, and is much more tactful than his father), and before long Sky Island is on its way again.
I really like how Tai writes both Trot and Betsy, and in just a few phrases he can make them distinct from not only each other, but also Dorothy, which is no mean feat. It all falls into place very logically, both in Oz and based on the events of Sky Island. This one is a delight, and I'm glad it has now been officially published and made available to anyone who wants it.