Sunday, March 18, 2007

The latest Oz readings and acquisitions

It's been a little while since I've told you what I've been reading, and what I've gotten, so let's take care of all that at once, shall we? First off, what have I been reading?

  • Trickster in the Land of Dreams by Zeese Papanikolas. This is an interesting little look at the American southwest, and the various myths that have sprung up in the area (Shoshone, Piyute, and other Native American tribes; the early Mormons; the founding and rise of Las Vegas; believe it or not, the Cold War). It's not quite non-fiction, but it's a lot like an anthropological study. There is a chapter devoted to Oz, but I never really seemed to get the connection or why it was in the book, and that struck me as the weakest section.
  • Ophie Out of Oz by Kathleen O'Dell. Thanks to a long bus trip, I managed to tear through this short children's novel in about a day and a half, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Ophelia Peeler is a fourth grader who has just moved to Oregon, and is having the worst trouble fitting in. She's a dreamer who's a Wizard of Oz fan, and she has a pair of Ruby Slippers that are very important to her. The Oz references are pretty tangential, but they are there and enjoyable. This book reminded me a lot of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, although I think a big part of this was the Oregon location. Ophie definitely has Ramona-like qualities, however.
  • Since those weren't terribly Ozzy, I looked through the pile to see if there was something a little truer to form. Sure enough, I also found The Wizard of Oz Movie Storybook, and dipped into that. It's a picture book-style retelling of The Movie, using screen grabs from The Movie. The sophisticated Oz book reader in me would have liked to see this go on longer (it's only 48 pages long), but for what it is, it's quite satisfactory.
  • I also finally managed to finish Judy Garland: A Portrait in Art and Anecdote by my good friend John Fricke. (You want to know how good? I think the inscription he signed in the front is almost as long as the book itself! And I'm only exaggerating a little!) I read this with my breakfast for several mornings, and it's a treat. Lots and lots of pictures, interspersed with anecdotes from those who knew and worked with Judy, as well as a few bon mots from Judy herself. It's a thorough, even-handed examination of her life and career, and it made me want to go out and watch a bunch of her other movies. (I was, in fact, very pleased to see John Fricke introduce the DVD of In the Good Old Summertime when I checked that one out of the library.)

I'm really looking forward to the next two books in my pile: The Oz Odyssey by Roger S. Baum (I know, his aren't the Ozziest of Oz books, but his heart is in the right place, and after the last two not-so-Ozzy books, it will be a pleasure to read this, I'm sure), and Wicked: The Grimmerie. Yes, the big fat hardback about the play that I got signed by Stephen Schwartz last year.

So, what new items have I gotten lately? Thanks to everyone who bought goodies through my website's bookshop last Christmas, I had a lot of credit to spend at Amazon, and I made good use of it!

  • A Feast of Crime. This anthology of food-themed murder mysteries includes one set at an Oz convention! It should be fun. (This book was also why I haven't said anything earlier, since it took its sweet time getting here. I wanted to get them all before I posted about them.)
  • The soundtrack to The Dreamer of Oz. No, it's not out on DVD yet (soon, pehaps, I hear through the grapevine), but at least you can listen to the charming music that ran through this 1990 TV movie about L. Frank Baum and how he created Oz.
  • The Turner Classic Movies edition of the Scene-It? DVD game. I only saw the expansion pack available on, but I've since found that the full board edition is available directly from the manufacturers (and they're a local company, too). Yes, Turner owns The Wizard of Oz, so there are scenes and questions from The Movie in it. I haven't found anyone to play with yet, however.
  • Another CD, Harold Arlen Sings Sweet and Hot. As I'm sure you all know, Arlen was the lyricist for The Movie, and this is a disc of him singing some of his famous songs, including "Over the Rainbow."
  • Journey to the Emerald City: Achieve A Competitive Edge by Creating A Culture of Accountability by Roger Connors and Tom Smith. Yet another Oz-themed guide to life, this one about business. This is actually the follow-up to an earlier book that I've already read. No, it won't really apply much to me, but it will be interesting to see the Oz connections.
  • A Wizard of Oz wastepaper basket. I'm not usually one to get trinkets and knickknacks and the like just because they have The Wizard of Oz stamped on them, but I thought a wastepaper basket would be a good addition to my room. Well, take a look:

    Why do all Oz items these days have to be pink? Hmm, those feet look familiar...
  • Finally, not an item I got from Amazon, but maybe the most fun. I got an e-mail from the founder of Celebriducks, the folks who make rubber ducks that look like celebrities. They were doing an Oz line, and would I like to comment? Before long, we'd made a deal, and I finally got around to getting them. They look something — well, no, exactly — like this:

    Glinda and a Munchkin are in the works, and the preliminaries I've seen look really good. Now if they'd only do the Wizard…

And that's about it. Quite a lot, huh? I'll try not to be so long next time.

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