Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Today's Delayed Oz Comics

I was busy getting to and then attending this year's OzCon International last Friday, otherwise I would have commented much sooner on this edition of Birdbrains. Somehow, it seems, Dorothy's party has picked up another member, who thinks Nick Chopper's name is Dave.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

This Week's Oz Short Story

Hello from California! (I'm actually writing this earlier in the week and scheduling it to appear now, so I don't have to worry about this during ozCon International. Ah, the wonders of modern technology!) I just wanted to wrap up my report on the 1995 issue of Oziana with a quick look at the rest of the issue:

  • A front cover by Rob Roy MacVeigh, from his work on his animated version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that, sadly, never got made.
  • A frontpiece by Robert B. Luehrs entitled "Dreamin'".
  • A word find by Robin Olderman about characters transformed in the Oz books.
Um, and that's about it. Next week, I'm home again, and will delve into the 1996 issue!

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Oz in Jeopardy!

When they revealed the categories for the Double Jeopardy! round of the June 26, 2018 match, two categories looked promising for Oz clues. Alas, nothing about The Wiz or Wicked in Broadway Musicals, but sure enough, the very first clue in Unreal Estate, for $400, was this:

Jeff, the challenger in the middle, rang in first and correctly responded, "What is the Emerald City?" Unfortunately, this was an evenly fought match with a challenging Final Jeopardy, so the final scores were very low. Even with that, Jeff finished a distant third.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

The Latest Oz Reading

I say "latest", but it's actually been a few weeks since I finished this pile. Other, more pressing issues have taken precedence, however, and decided to hold off. Well, I finally have a little time to spare before things get nutty again in the not-too-distant future, so I'm going to jump on in.

  • I decided to skip Crown Fire in my chronological rereading of the works of Eloise Jarvis McGraw as I'd acquired it so recently and it was relatively fresh. So instead I read Moccasin Trail, the story of Jim Keath, a young nineteenth century man torn between two worlds. As a youth, he ran away from his family in Missouri to go with his uncle, a trapper who worked in the Rocky Mountains. His uncle died, and after an encounter with a bear James was taken in by a Crow tribe, who eventually adopt him and he becomes part of their family. Now grown, Jim has left the Crow and is working as a trapper himself in the Oregon territory. It's getting harder to fine animals, however, and a chance encounter leads Jim back to his family, who are on the Oregon Trail headed to the Willamette Valley. He helps them finish the journey and claim their land, but the long time away and his long hair and Crow clothes make it hard for his family to understand and trust him. Adventures ensue, of course, and Jim keeps vacillating between staying with his family and heading back to the mountains. Of course there's a happy ending and Jim finds a way to, if not exactly be part of both worlds, at least do something that works well for him. This is very much a book of its time, with all kinds of attitudes and beliefs that were actually fairly progressive in 1952, but seem a little stilted today. Jim's character and the struggles he has to deal with are well realized, however, and I found it to be an intriguing read. As a native Oregonian, Eloise knew the area well, but this was her first historical, and it feels like she did her research well, as it has a feel of truth.
  • Fables, Volume 11: War and Pieces, collecting issues 70 to 75 of the comic book series. The Fables finally go on the offensive against the Adversary, and make some major inroads and win some big victories. In fact, the Adversary is even turned toward their cause. Not a lot Ozzy going on, although Bufkin shows up in a few places. Also, the thirteenth floor witches are introduced, including a young blonde girl who will later turn out to be Ozma.
  • The Steam Engines of Oz, Volume 1, another comic book collection. I'd read the single issues some time ago, but this was a nice revisit. In a dystopian steampunk future Oz ruled by the heartless Tin Woodman, Victoria Wright is one of the mechanics that keeps the Emerald City in motion around Oz. She ends up helping some prisoners escape, and gets caught up in the rebellion against the Tin Woodman. This volume ends with the Tin Woodman regaining his heart and beginning the process of mending his ways, but there is still a long way to go, so I guess I'd better get volume 2 soon. Even if the setting and premise aren't all that Ozzy, it's a fun book, and Victoria is a great character.
  • Finally for this round of Oz reading is Sweet Wishes from Oz by Marin Elizabeth Xiques. Wintergreen is Santa's chief elf in charge of creating new kinds of candy, but she wants a break, and asks to spend a year running a sweet shop in the Emerald City. Wintergreen's place in Santa's workshop is taken by Andy Borough, an aspiring Emerald City confectioner whose parents were knocked silly one Christmas. Things don't go well for either Wintergreen or Andy at first, and they both learn to rely on the generosity of others, as well as time and patience, to get up to speed. Both, eventually, come out in the end as stronger candy makers and more contented with their lots. It's a sweet (yes, pun intended) little story, and a nice look at life in the Emerald City, something that isn't shown enough in the Oz books. I also like how each chapter is set up by a letter from Andy to Wintergreen or vice versa, as they both support each other and send samples to each other.
And that is it for the current round of Oz reading. I hope I get to read a lot more stuff by the time the next batch of Oz books comes up!

Oz in Jeopardy!

We had a double dose of Oz in, appropriately enough, the Double Jeopardy! round of the June 14, 2018 match. The category was Broadway Names, and the $800 clue was this one:

This is a mildly Ozzy clue, in that Williams played Glinda in Oz the Great and Powerful. Diana, the defending champion, rang in first and correctly responded, "What is Cabaret?" She then stayed in the category, and selected the $1200 clue, which proved to be really Ozzy:

She originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked.

Diana rang in first again and correctly replied, "Who is Idina Menzel?" (Thank goodness she didn't say "Who is Adele Gazeem?") Diana went on to dominate the game and defended her title in a runaway.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story from the 1995 edition of Oziana is "The Dollmaker of Oz" by Karyl Carlson and illustrated by Destré Xan Childs. This one is particularly ear to my heart because, as many of my readers may know, Karyl is also my co-author on Queen Ann in Oz. So we've worked a lot together on Oz fiction, and Karyl showed me some of her earlier versions of this story. (I even have two earlier drafts in my copy of this issue.) This story is also unusual in that it is autobiographical. Karyl is making some of her famous Oz dolls (I have a bunch in my collection myself) when Glinda comes to her front door! It seems a ring Karyl found is a lost Oz artifact, the Ring of Disenchantment. Every time Karyl makes a doll of an Oz character who is alive because of magic, their essence goes into the doll and their Ozian counterpart is disenchanted. So the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead, and Scraps are lifeless dummies, and Nick Chopper is human again, and after so many years stuck in a cupboard he has a ravenous appetite! (Karyl also made a Woozy doll, but as he's already who he is, the ring didn't affect him.) The solution is simple, however: Karyl has to disassemble the dolls, in reverse order from how they were made. It takes some time and care, but Karyl is able to return the Oz characters to their natural states, and Glinda not only takes the ring back for safekeeping, she also takes back the dolls to share with their real life counterparts!

I'm biased, of course, but I did enjoy rereading this one again after so long. The Ozians have a tough time figuring out just who Karyl is and where she lives, but a little detective work and some help from some old friends (and a cameo from Karyl's son, James) prove to be the keys to unlocking that mystery. Of course, this begs the question, did this actually happen or not? Having worked with Karyl for so long, and seeing all the evidence with my own eyes, I can tell you with great certainty that—————

Oh, is that the time? Okay, I'd better run. I'll be in California next weekend for OzCon International (I hope to see some of you there!), but I'll have a quickie for you so I can keep up this weekly schedule.

Today's Oz Comic

Huh. I've seen plenty of Tin Man/Iron Man crossovers before, but today's Reality Check is the first that I recall making the connection between Nick Chopper and Tony Stark's heart conditions. Maybe there's more to this than one would initially expect.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Today's Oz Comic

I am grateful that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900, before much of our modern society became as fraught as it is now. Because if it were in a more modern setting, we might see incidents like in today's edition of CowTown, which really seems to be one of the Oz-friendliest comics out there.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Oz in Jeopardy!

When I saw the category Best Song Oscars in the Double Jeopardy! round of the June 11, 2018 match, I knew I would eventually be writing this blog post. Sure enough, the $1200 clue was:

David, the defending champion, rang in first and responded, "What is 'Singin' in the Rain'?" So he lost $1200 for an incorrect response. Tracey, the challenger in the middle, and got it right (and bumped up her score) with, "What is 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'?" But in the end, it had little effect on either player, as Tracey came in third, David second, and the game was one by Catherine, the one player who didn't even get involved in this question at all.

Today's Oz Comic

About today's edition of Looks Good on Paper: Are those two on their way to appear in Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre? And what about that seedy looking guy on the left?

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Tik Tok and Tin Man

Oh, they almost got this right! While the Tin Man is saving her from a nasty swarm of lightning bugs (they shoot lightning at people), Dorothy finds a mechanical man. It turns out Tin Man may not be the only metal man in Oz after all.

They find the key and directions and wind him up, but he can't seem to talk very well. They take him to his creators, Munchkin inventors Smith and Tinker (!), who reveal his name is Tik Tok, and that he indeed needs a few springs. By this point, Tik Tok has developed a true admiration for the Tin Man, but Tin Man is showing signs of jealousy at how everyone is taking to Tik Tok. The only place to get the springs is Springfield Mountain, so the gang takes Tik Tok in tow and head there. Sure enough, there is a field of springs on top of the mountain (good to know the writers of this show are continuing with the Ozzy tradition of puns). Tik Tok spots the particular springs they need, so the gang goes after them, only for them to go bouncing around on all the springs. Tik Tok uses his extendable arms (well this is new!) to save them, and Tin Man manages to get the springs. Once they're all safe again, Tin Man decides he's not needed anymore and makes to leave. Dorothy has none of it, of course, and tells him about how much they all love him, including Tik Tok. They get back to Smith and Tinker, who replace the springs and Tik Tok can talk properly at last. He tells the Tin Man how much he admires him, and the two go off on their own, Tin Man telling Tik Tok how to be a metal man in Oz.

They did a nice job with Tik Tok, keeping him very true to his book roots—and then they ruin it at the end by giving him a terrible, stereotyped Italian accent! This really let this one down for me, and is one of the real missteps I've seen on this show.

And this may be my last entry in this series for a while. I have a lot of other stuff on my plate right now, and I think I need a breather. But I do plan to watch the rest of the episodes soon, and I will rewatch them and blog about them later.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Lion Catches a Bug

It seems the Wicked Witch, in her disembodied state trapped in the crystal ball, isn't relying solely on Wilhelmina, because she sends another band of Winged Monkeys (Lyman and Frank are nowhere to be seen) to take over the Emerald Forest, where the Lion is now king. Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Toto get wind of this and go to warn Lion, but he's in bed having caught a bug—not a cold, like Dorothy thinks at first, but a real bug running around Lion's head and making him miserable. After trying a few home remedies with no success, they go to Ozma, who gives Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tin Man shrinking potions. They're going into Lion's head to confront the bug. Yes, it's a Wizard of Oz/Fantastic Voyage mashup! Our three heroes manage to drive the bug out, the Lion feels better and goes off to stop the monkeys, and the bug ends up in the head of the monkey chief! All's well that ends well!

There's not a lot else to add. It is very cute, however, that Ozma is blowing bubbles shaped like cubes, stars, pyramids, and other various non-spherical shapes.

Today's Oz Comic

All I will say about today's edition of 1 and Done is: Eeeeeewwwwwwwww!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: No-Sleep Sleepover

Dorothy and Ozma are hosting an old-fashioned Kansas-style sleepover, complete with pillows and sleeping bags, snacks, and everything you need for a makeover. The Patchwork Girl even brings new pajamas for everyone. Frank and Lyman are spying on them and report back to Wilhelmina, who is determined to crash their party. Then all this happens:

Dorothy uses the Ruby Slippers in an attempt to get close to the pillow monster, but succeeds too well, and the monster grabs her. Wilhelmina flies by to gloat, and the monster grabs her, too! Leaking stuffing, he marches to Wilhelmina's castle and crashes Frank and Lyman's attempt at a sleepover (how do you play Jenga with bananas?), while Dorothy's friends follow the stuffing trail in a balloon. Patchwork Girl pops a bunch of the monster's stitches while the Tin Woodman flies around him with a trailing rope, both incapacitating and destroying him. Dorothy and Wilhelmina emerge from the pile of pillow stuffing, and Dorothy produces pajamas for Wilhelmina, Frank, and Lyman, and invites them to the sleepover. Everyone is having a great time, except Wilhelmina isn't too pleased with the bunny ears on her new pajamas.

This was just a silly one. I think Dorothy may start having more luck with things if she just includes Wilhelmina in the fun from the start. I'm still not sure Wilhelmina's heart is quite as interested in getting the Ruby Slippers as her aunt wants her to be, and maybe she and Dorothy would be better as friends than enemies. Still, I doubt their relationship is going to change much at all. I was amused at the Lion bringing in the makeover supplies, and ending up with curlers in his mane. This harkens back to some of Bert Lahr's shtick in the Wash and Brush Up Co. in The Movie. The statue garden that the gang hides behind also reminds me of the classic illustration from The Road to Oz where Neill's sophisticated, fashionable Dorothy looks on a statue of her younger self as illustrated by W. W. Denslow in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Wand-erful

You know how I thought I was done with these? Not even close, as it turned out! new episodes showed up on the Boomerang channel this morning, so I guess I get to keep going with these after all. So, in this one, Dorothy and the gang are trying to teach Toto how to fetch, but he keeps bringing back the wrong thing. Ozma then alerts them to an oncoming storm, the biggest one Oz has seen in centuries. Glinda (at last!) comes and tries to create a bubble over the entire Emerald City to protect it, but she seems to have lost it. The hunt is on, which Frank and Lyman then relay to Wilhelmina, who gets the idea to find it first and create a bubble around herself to protect her while she steals the Ruby Slippers. Using her wand detector, she barely beats Dorothy to the Munchkin house where Glinda left the wand. Using the Ruby Slippers, Dorothy beats her back to Wilhelmina's castle, but Frank gets the drop and puts them in a magic-proof cage. Toto is free, however, so Dorothy throws him a sick so that he'll fetch the wrong thing—the wand! Dorothy creates bubbles around them all, they fly back to the Emerald City, and Glinda is able to put up a bubble just in time to save everyone from the storm.

This wasn't the greatest episode, but it certainly had its moments. The big new addition is not only Glinda, but they use the title Glinda the Good. Even though she looks a lot like Billie Burke from The Movie, there are indications that her role may be more like it is in the books, which is good. My big complaint is that, towards the end, the Scarecrow is seen drinking cocoa. We know that the Scarecrow can't drink. For that matter, earlier in the episode, he asks Dorothy if he has straw in his teeth. Since when did the Scarecrow have teeth? What's even more disturbing is that there's a piece of straw stuck in them!

Today's Oz Comic

Well, yes, I suppose the home seen in today's edition of CowTown would indeed make a good candidate for a show you might see on HGTV.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

This Week's Oz Short Story

The second story in the 1995 edition of Oziana is "A Princess of Oz" by Dave Hulan, with illustrations by James Vincent III. Trot, bored one day, decides to explore Ruggedo's old caverns under the Emerald City, where she discovers Delva and a group of her Delves excavating under the palace. She is pressed into service and outfitted into a mining outfit, with digging gauntlets that prevent her from reaching the transportation pills in her pocket. She has no choice but to dig, looking for silver. Eventually, Trot realizes that the Delves plan to collapse the Emerald City into the ground so they can collect all the city's silver. Fortunately, an encounter with a sympathetic woodchuck lets her get to a pill, and she wishes herself to e where Ozma is. Fortunately, that's in Glinda's palace with the Wizard, so the three greatest magic workers in Oz put their heads together and deal with the Delves. (Trot, meanwhile, puts on fresh clothes and has her first real meal in days!) The problem solved, Ozma officially bestows Trot with the title Princess of Oz for her bravery and resourcefulness.

I like how Hulan takes all kinds of elements from all over the Oz books and combines them into a new story. And Trot is terrific in this tale. And I think that's about all I have to say about it!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Oz in Jeopardy!

I told you this was a busy week! The third semifinal in the 2018 Teachers Tournament featured no Oz clues, and it was won by Larry. So for the two-game finale, we have Steve, Larry, and Claire duking it out for bragging rights and a whole bunch of money. So, in the first match, on May 17, 2018, the Double Jeopardy! round had the category The Month of May, with this clue for $1600:

Larry signaled first and correctly responded, "What is emerald?" He went on to handily win the first match—but they were only halfway through! In the second match, the game for May 18, 2018, again in the Double Jeopardy! round there were two linked categories, Are You There God? and It's Me, Margaret. In the latter category, the $1200 clue read:
Again, Larry rang in first, and again he responded correctly, this time with, "Who is Margaret Hamilton?" Again, Larry went on to a convincing win, and so he won the whole tournament, $100,000, and a spot in the next Tournament of Champions. Not bad!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Oz in Jeopardy!

I told you there were a lot of Oz clues in this year's Teachers Tournament! The next day after my last entry in this series—the second semifinal, broadcast May 15, 2018 (L. Frank Baum's birthday, no less)—we got this $200 clue in the Music category in the Jeopardy! round:

Rachel, the teacher at the center lectern, rang in first and correctly responded with, "Who is Elton John?" She went on to finish with a final score of $25,900—and it wasn't enough, as Claire ended with $31,801 and went on to the tournament finals. And we'll find out how well she does in an upcoming entry!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: One Winged Wally

While playing hide and seek on the yellow brick road, Dorothy and the guys are terrorized by the Wheelers, who act like they own the road and run over anyone who gets in their way. Getting off the road and out of their way, the gang meet Wally, a flying monkey with only one wing. He's run away from home because he can't fly straight and keeps messing things up. Dorothy decides to help him get a new wing and takes him to Ozma. After several interesting attempts, Ozma confesses that she can't do monkey wings, so they go to see the crooked magician, Dr. Pipt. Sure enough, Dr. Pipt is able to create a new wing for Wally, but it's made from some rare ingredients, and he can only make the one. It's also going to take some time for the wing to set before Wally can use it properly. Walking back to the Emerald City, the Wheelers come after them again, and this time Dorothy stands up to them. The Wheelers surround them, the Ruby Slippers won't work because of all the dust that's getting kicked (rolled?) up, and the Wheelers are actually winning. In desperation, Wally grabs them all and flies them out of there, but his new wing pops off and is pulverized under the Wheeler's wheels. Never mind, says Wally, I can at least do this, and uses his circular flying to snare the Wheelers in a vine and carry them off, where his erratic flying causes the Wheelers to crash into everything in his path. Wally receives a medal for his bravery and sacrifice, and is welcomed back into his family, who realizes how much they miss him.

They did a great job with both the Wheelers and Dr. Pipt, I think, staying true enough to their literary roots while at the same time giveng them their own characterizations that fit in perfectly with this show. And unlike Lost in Oz, I will eventually see more of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, if Boomerang (the cable channel, not the streaming service) ever shows more episodes (there are currently thirty-nine shorts and an extra-long finale). Alternatively, I may soon get this DVD, which has the next seven episodes on it. I can tell by the show's streaming site that I still have to see Tik-Tok, Glinda, the Wizard, and even Zog, plus it looks like there may be a visit to Bunbury. The Halloween episodes should be a lot of fun, too. But until then, I have another Oz show watch-a-thon I will probably undertake soon, but I have other stuff to catch up on first. And by it's nature, I don't think this show will quite so easily lend itself to an episode-by-episode recap.