Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lost in Oz, Chapter 14: The Deadly Desert

Yes! It's back for the second half of the first season! So naturally I'm going to watch and blog the next thirteen episodes of Lost in Oz. (I may not do them every day, however, and the viewings may get interspersed with other shows that I will talk about when they come up.) As you may remember, when we left off, Dorothy, Toto, and the Scarecrow didn't make it back to Kansas after all. Instead, the house had landed in a desert. Well, at the top of this episode, Scarecrow confirms that it's the Deadly Desert, and Dorothy is frustrated at getting lost again. Nevertheless, she tries to find a solution, and eventually spots a signal from a lighthouse. She uses the bathroom mirror to signal it, and eventually a high-tech flying carpet (which looks a lot like a metallic articulated manta ray!) comes for them. They head off towards the lighthouse, but the Wheelers come after them. They almost shake them off, but in the struggle Dorothy falls into the desert—and nothing much appears to happen to her. A sand ghost surrounds her, however, and scares off the Wheelers. So far so good, until Dorothy spots a distant lunch pail tree and heads towards it. Trouble is, Scarecrow and Toto can't. Toto follows anyway, and he and Dorothy enjoy a meal and are eventually joined by Ojo, West, and Dorothy's mother. It's the latter image that casts doubts in Dorothy's mind, and she realizes it's all a mirage, but it's very convincing and nearly stays anyway. Only Scarecrow swooping in on the carpet shakes her up enough to notice they're really sand ghosts. Fortunately, Dorothy and Scarecrow arrive at the lighthouse, which is on rock that the sand ghosts can't travel on. Our little group is safe, but they have a gauntlet of pounding fists to get through (the Lost in Oz version of the Giant with the Hammer, I'm guessing) before finally finding out where they are—as General Guph welcomes them to the Nome Kingdom, and he has plans to present Dorothy to his king.

So it's off to a slow but promising start. The sand ghosts are a creepy new addition to tho Oz mythos, and Dorothy's scream of frustration behind a closed door before coming out again to take charge of things is right on. We don't see what's happening back in the Emerald City, but it looks like we will in the next episode.

Today's Oz Comic

Two popular but not-wholly-sotisfactory-book-adaptation films of the 1930s meet in today's Pop Culture Shock Therapy. (Had that been the book Scarecrow, it wouldn't have been an issue, as the Wizard was at least smart enough to put something in the Scarecrow's head to make him believe he had a brain.)

Monday, June 18, 2018

This Week's Oz Short Stories

No, that's not a typo, I actually read two stories this week—or rather, two second parts of the same first part I read last week. Yes, I decided to start off the 1994 edition of Oziana with the two winning ending's to last issue's contest to provide an ending for Eric Shanower's story "The Silver Jug". As you may recall, Glinda's maid Amanda has a somewhat flighty and impetuous nature which is affecting her work, so Glinda gave her a sealed silver jug to care for while Glinda was in the Emerald City for three days. The first ending is by Margaret Berg, and in it Amanda leaves the jug on a table in a sunny room. The sun heat up the silver and melted the wax, causing it to pop open when Amanda knocked it over while dusting! All kinds of trumpet and bell flowers fall out, creating a terrible din. But with help from one of the other maids, Amanda gets it all put back together and the jug sealed. When Glinda returns, she hears the whole story, and decides that Amanda would fit in better working for the Tin Woodman, so Amanda becomes Nick Chopper's new housekeeper.

The second ending is by Fred Otto, and involves Amanda's curiosity leading her to the Great Book of Records, only to discover that the Book has stopped! It turns out, however, that the entries are now appearing in the silver jug, so when Amanda opens the jug, sentences start appearing in the Book again! With the Book giving away the fact that she opened the jug, Amanda and another friend try to set things right. Some clever thinking and a little word play take care of things, and Amanda gets to keep her job, but with her friend Maxine mentoring her.

Both endings are clever and very Ozzy, and I'm glad that, in both cases, Amanda not only showed initiative in taking care of her own problems, she also found the right people to help her.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Today's Oz Comics

A trio for you today, although only one of them is current for today:

  • First, going back to 2010, Israeli cartoonist Ramat Belt Shemesh presented this political cartoon about the Israeli peace process. This is going back a few years, and I don't follow Israeli politics much, so I'm not sure who those are portraying the Tin Woodman or the Cowardly Lion. (The Scarecrow, at least, is pretty obvious.)
  • Just one for fun. I don't know the source, the artist, or when it first appeared, but it is fun, and an original idea.
  • On the other hand, today's edition of Half Full isn't so original, as we've seen many cartoons on a similar theme before. But Oz-zombie mashups are always fun.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

This Week's Oz Short Story

Going back, the second story in the 1993 issue of Oziana (and the last one I will be reporting on for this issue) is "The Silver Jug", written and illustrated by EricShanower. Amanda is a young Gillikin woman who gets a coveted job as one of Glinda's handmaidens. Only trouble is, she's a little impulsive, and prone to straying from her tasks or doing them her own way. Glinda patiently guides her, but finally decides that Amanda needs to learn some control. Glinda gives Amanda a sealed silver jug to look after while Glinda is off to the Emerald City for a few days, entrusting Amanda with its contents—and then the story ends! It's a finish-the-story contest, so I'm writing it up now so that the next thing I can read is the winning conclusions in the 1994 issue, but you only have to wait a week.

I will wrap up this look at the 1993 issue with the one other non-story extra, the cover by Bill Eubanks. It depicts the Fab Five from The Movie carved into a mountain, looking not at all unlike Mt. Rushmore, with a trio of Munchkins at the base admiring the view.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Today's Oz Comic

Man, they really like The Wizard of Oz over at Pop Culture Shock Therapy, because this is already the second one this month! But at least Scarecrow's new brain is already working.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Today's Non-Witchy Oz Political Cartoon

Oh, good, Steve Artley has an Oz political cartoon that doesn't have to do with Donald Trump's "witch hunt" accusations. Still, it does say a lot about one of Trump's current signature policies.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Today's Oz Comic

This edition of Rhymes with Orange started showing up all over my Facebook feed yesterday. Since I'm a regular Rhymes with Orange reader, I thought it might have been an old one, but then I noticed the 2018 copyright. So I then concluded that these people had gotten the early editions of their local Sunday papers. Sure enough, I finally saw the online version in my feed this morning.

I'm impressed with the pun in the final balloon, but I'm worried about how many readers are going to understand it. After all, most people know The Wizard of Oz only as a movie. (True story: Someone actually wrote to me once asking if Baum wrote the novelization of The Movie.) L. Frank Baum is no longer as well known as his creations.

Lots of Oz on TV!

All kinds of Oz TV alerts!

  • First, I probably should have posted this earlier, but it's not too late. If you get the Boomerang cable channel (as opposed to the Boomerang streaming service), you can now watch the new show Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, originally shown on Boomerang (the streaming service, not the cable channel). Oh, and word on the Yellow Brick Road is that it has been picked up for a second season.
  • Second, The Movie gets a cable TV airing, outside of its usual holiday showings, on TCM later this week. It's set for 8:00 pm EDT Thursday, June 7. Take a look at TCM's website on The Movie for details.
  • Finally, Season 1B (no, I don't know why it isn't just called Season 2, either) of Lost in Oz drops on Amazon Prime this Friday, June 8. The first part of the season was awesome, so I'm really looking forward to the rest. And yes, I'll do what I did last year and blog about each episode as I watch it. (Hmm, maybe I'll even binge the first part, too, if my time allows.) You can get details on Amazon's Lots in Oz page.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

This Week's Oz Short Story

I skipped the second story in the 1993 edition of Oziana for reasons I will explain next week, so this week is the third and final story, "Jubulut" by Onyx Madden. Madden was a beloved figure in Oz circles who wrote The Mysterious Chronicles of Oz, and "Jubulut" is an excerpt from his next book, which sadly remains unpublished, as Madden died not long after this was published. Presumably he never completed the book. But what we do get is our American heroine, Robin (a name Oziana editor Robin Olderman was jealous of, as she wanted to have adventures in Oz, too), has made her way onto a cloud so that she can cross the Deadly Desert into Ev. She meets Tracey, one of Polychrome's less adventurous sisters, lounging on top. Good thing, too, as a yagmur starts to suck the water from their cloud. (Yagmurs are nearly invisible flying cloud eaters, of course.) They scare off the yagmur, but the cloud needs some TLC to continue the journey. Tracey takes them to Jubulut, the cloud tender, and Robin and Tracey have some fun exploring Jubulut's palace while they wait for their ride. And that's about it! As a little slice-of-life tale, it's fun, but it's disappointing that the book has never been published.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Today's Oz Comics (Half Political, Half Just Odd)

It's another two-fer!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

This Week's Oz Short Story

The first story in the 1993 issue of Oziana may be one of the longest that they've published so far. "The Marchant of Oz" by Chuck Sabatos, with illustrations by Chris Sterling, tells a little bit about what happened in Oz between Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz and The Road to Oz, explaining the origins of the Tin Woodman's palace and Jack Pumpkinhead's farm, and why Oz has no money anymore. We also see Margolotte elope, and the Wizard starts to learn real magic. As you can probably guess from the title, this is also an Ozian take on Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Jack Pumpkinhead needs a small loan to start his farm, so the Tin Woodman helps him procure a loan from one of the Emerald City's leading moneylenders, Boldkey (if you know Shakespeare's version of the story, you can guess where this character's name comes from). All the security Boldkey wants is a pound of Nick Chopper's tin. Jack and the Tin Woodman are unable to pay him back, so while Ozma is away at a conference in Ix, the Wizard must decide what to do when Boldkey pushes forward his claim. This is all very Ozzy and there are many callbacks to events and characters in the Baum books. And if you know how Shakespeare handled things, the resolution is going to look very familiar. But if not, you'll still enjoy it.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Oz in Jeopardy!

It's been a little while since I've been able to do one of these, but the long holiday weekend and not much else going on means it's time for another look at Oz on America's favorite answer-and-question quiz show. On the January 19, 2018 episode, the final category in the Double Jeopardy! round was Say Uncle, where you name the uncle of the fictional character given. Yes, a little convoluted, but a lot of fun. The final clue, for $2000, was this:

Sarah, the challenger on the right, nervously rang in and responded, "Uncle...the guy!" That was clearly wrong, nobody else tried, so "Who is Uncle Henry?" became a triple stumper. But by ringing in and trying, Sarah may have hit the opposite of my usual theory about the player knowing the Oz clue goes on to win: She didn't know it, so she came in third!

Also today, my Jeopardy! page-a-day desk calendar had this clue, also for $2000, in the category Cotton is King:

DOROTHY'S ICONIC BLUE AND
WHITE CHECKED PINAFORE IN
THE WIZARD OF OZ WAS MADE
FROM THIS COTTON FABRIC

The correct response is, of course, "What is gingham?"

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Witch Hunt Continues

More Oz-themed political cartoons about our current president's woes, coming from Chris Britt at Creators Syndicate and Jim Morin at the Miami Herald.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Today's Continuing Oz Comic Saga

The Gray Zone continues its saga about kidnapping the Scarecrow. Since they still appear to be out of order, I'll just put them up here and let you, the reader, figure out what the exact order is. So, here we have the installment from yesterday, May 19, and this is the installment for today, May 20. We'll keep an eye on this and see if there are more in the coming days.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

This Week's Oz Short Stories

We wrap up our examination of the 1992 issue of Oziana with a look at all the little extras in the issue, including two very short stories:

  • The cover, by Eric Shanower, shows the Wicked Witch of the East, just seconds before a certain house lands on her. (I saw a varant of this once, with a thought balloon coming out of her head saying, "Oh, $@#%!" Eric may have done that himself!)
  • The editor asks readers to send in a postcard with their answers to a brief survey. (I wonder how many answered? I know I didn't.)
  • It's not labeled as an "Oz-E-Gag", but Bill Eubank contributes a cartoon of Howard Huge (then a mainstay in Parade magazine) reading The Shaggy Man of Oz. One of Howard's humans says to the other, "You'd think he'd be reading 'shaggy dog' stories."
  • "The Journey" is the first of two one-page stories, written by Deborah Holden and illustrated by Maria Brown. This tells the tale of L. Frank Baum crossing the Shifting Sands and coming home to Oz.
  • "Untitled Story", also by Holden and Brown, tells about the final days of Queen Lurline's pregnancy, reflecting on her marriage to the King of Oz and how the immortal community reacted to the news. (Well, it does answer a lot of complicated questions about Ozma's lineage!)
  • Robin Olderman and Fred Meyer contribute a quiz called The Tail End, about that very appendage on many Oz characters. It includes pictures to aid the quizzer.
  • Finally, the back cover features a portrait of Professor Nowitall. There is no credit in the issue, and the only indicator are the artist's initials of SPM on the drawing itself, so I'm not sure who drew it!
Next week, 1993!

This Week's Connected Oz Comics

My man in Japan, Michael-sensei, discovered not one, but two Oz comics over in The Grey Zone this week. So I am going to present them out of order, as they make more sense that way. (As this comic is about aliens, perhaps they have a less linear sense of time than we humans do, which is why these appeared out of order.) First, in the May 18 edition, the Grays kidnap one of Dorothy'- friends. Then, in the May 17 edition, we see the possible aftermath of the next day's kidnapping. So, clear, right?

Yesterday's Same-Themed Oz Political Cartoons

With the one year anniversary of the Mueller investigation earlier this week, you know President Trump would bring up the whole "witch hunt" issue again. And you know that means cartoonists are going to have something to draw about that. Sure enough, both Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Mark Streeter of the Savannah Morning News have Oz-themed cartoons referencing a certain green-skinned character.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Today's Oz Comic

Only two days after our last cartoon, today's edition of Strange Brew has something very similar. I'm also noticing a few other of the many non-Oz comics I read with the some idea. Do you think cartoonists are finally noticing the Internet is a thing, or is it all just wild coincidence?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Today's Birthday Oz Comic

Happy L. Frank Baum's birthday, everyone! Were Baumalive today, he'd be 162 years old and probably still knocking on the lid of his coffin, shouting, "Let me out!"

Too soon? Okay, then, let's move on to today's edition of the comic panel 9 to 5 (no relationship to either the movie or this song from the movie or this other song from the same time that had to be renamed in the United States because of the movie and first song mentioned here) and their take on The Wizard of Oz. As a teacher, I've heard more than a handful of students ask the same thing, sadly.