Yes, at long last, I'm in a position where I can write about more than just comics here. My latest round of Oz reading wrapped up a while ago, actually, and I never did get the chance to write about any of it while I was doing it. I plan to make up for lost time over the next few weeks. I had an awful lot of stuff in my pile, so I've broken it down into rough categories. Today's category will be non-fiction. I'm starting here because the first item I read was the program book for last year's OzCon International, the big fiftieth anniversary convention in San Diego, and one of the biggest Oz conventions ever held. Yes, that convention was in August last year. I finally got around to reading the program book in April. That tells you how crazy my life has been the last few months, and how many other things I've had to read. As always, the program book is pretty impressive. Besides information about the convention itself (map of the hotel, schedule and descriptions of events, profiles of special guests attending, that sort of thing), it also included one of last year's quizzes (I would like to point out to the people who put these books together that there are three quizzes), it includes all kinds of fascinating and interesting essays about the theme of the convention. This year it was the one hundredth anniversary of Tik-Tok of Oz and its associated works, notably the stage musical The Tik-Tok Man of Oz. So there's a remembrance of the convention chair's meeting with Gloria Gottschalk Morgan, the daughter of Tik-Tok Man composer Louis F. Gottschalk; a remembrance of L. Frank Buam by Louis F. Gottschalk, written in 1925 and never previously published; an examination of romance in the Oz books, since Tik-Tok was one of the first to prominently feature a romantic subplot; the lost opportunity of that book's romantic pairing of Private Files and Ozga, the Rose Princess; L. Frank Baum's short story "Tik-Tok and the Nome King"; a look at foreign translations and illustrations of Tik-Tok of Oz; an original poem told from Ruggedo's viewpoint about love; and an attempt to put Tik-Tok of Oz into historical perspective and pin down just when it takes place. Tik-To of Oz was not the only Oz book celebrating an anniversary last year, however, and there is an appreciative essay about Speedy in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson on its eighty years. And with the convention being in San Diego, a short essay talks about the time that two Royal Historians, Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Lauren Lynn McGraw, lived in nearby La Jolla. But the bulk of the program book is devoted to a long and thorough scholarly and historical examination of the play The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, with all kinds of new information about its creation and development, and how it was brought back to life after a century for a special performance during last year's convention. If you want to get a copy of this year's book (and if you're a fan of the 1985 movie Return to Oz, you will very likely want this one), come to this year's edition of OzCon International, the fifty-first one.
The other big non-fiction book I read was Everything Oz: The Wizard Book of Makes and Bakes by Christine Leech and Hannah Reed-Baldrey. This is a gorgeous book of Oz craft and cooking ideas, as you may have deduced from the title. It is richly illustrated with diagrams, directions, and templates for the projects, as well as great photos of the finished products. The writers and publishers are British, so there are odd spellings (well, odd to Americans), unusual ingredients and components, and a general Brits-trying-to-be-American vibe to the whole book, but if anything, that kind of adds to the charm. (I'm still a little confused by caster sugar, I will add.) A lot of these are a little generic, and don't really seem Ozzy except in context, but the poppy-themed sleep mask, the Flying Monkey baby bath towel/robe, and the green pistachio popcorn are very Ozzy and creative. If you have an interest in arts and crafts, or cooking, you may want to check this one out.
Okay, more Ozzy goodness coming soon!